TROUBLEMAKERS IN CORINTH!
Feb. 14, 2004›››››››› 6th Sunday of Year C
St. PatrickŪs parish is in Kowloon, Hong Kong.› There are four weekend Masses including a childrenŪs Mass at 10:45, Sunday.› This is the parish where I was formerly pastor.›› Always great to hear from you.› ([email protected] ››Cf. also: www.acpp.org under žLibrary Ó› for our Social ConcernsŪ teaching material--› Fr. Gene Thalman M.M.]
››››››››››› At› one time or another, I am sure all of us in Hong Kong have lived near the construction site of a tall apartment block?› ItŪs a real nuisance!› What is the most disturbing period of the building process?› The piling. Boom! Boom! All day!› It is annoying but necessary for every building to have a firm foundation.› Without a stable foundation the most beautifully constructed building sooner or later will come crumbling down.
››››››››››› The teachings of our Faith are like a beautifully constructed skyscraper reaching to the heavens. But it is good to step back from time to time and inspect the foundation of our Faith. Paul tells us that without this foundation, everything we believe would collapse.
In his fifteenth chapter to the Paul reminds the Corinthian community and ours of the foundation upon which Christian Faith rests.
The early Christians had a concise foundation.› The foundation was expressed in a one line Creed. This first Christian Creed was very easy to memorize:
GODŪS POINT OF VIEW:
žChrist died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried and, in accordance with the Scriptures, rose on the third day÷.Ó›› 1 Cor: 15: 3-4 (NAB)
At the death of Jesus his followers were devastated.› Jesus was a good person.› He healed the sick.› He gave some inspiring sermons. But he was dead. Dead!› Dead! Some of his followers returned to their former way of life. Others stayed in Jerusalem holding hands and wallowing in their grief.
And then something happened.› These followers had an experience. They testified that they seen, heard and touched the Risen Christ.› They were convinced it wasnŪt a ghost but a glorious person with real skin, bones and blood.› It was the Risen Christ!
ž..he was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.› After that he was seen by five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still alive÷› Next he was seen by, then by all the apostles.› ÷ Last of all he was seen by me÷Ó 1 Cor. 15: 5-8. [NAB]
Over five hundred witnesses had this same experience. More importantly each of them was changed from deep inside by this meeting with the Risen Christ.› After the experience they were at peace, full of hope and love for all.› They lived in a new way.›› They publicly professed their Faith.› They suffered persecution and even deathůall because they they would not deny that they had met the Risen Christ.
In todayŪs reading we see that the Christian community in Corinth had a dispute. There was clique of arrogant žsmart alecksÓ causing confusion.› They agreed with Paul that Jesus was raised from the dead.› They agreed with Paul that the Risen Christ had a glorious body which included flesh, bones and skin.
However these Corinthians troublemakers said that it was impossible that human beings could be raised from the dead. žWhen somebody is dead, he/she is dead as a doornail!Ó› They may have thought as did many non-Christians of that time (and perhaps many people right here in Wang Tau Hom) that after death žsomething of the dead person remained-- shadows living in a dark musty gigantic pit called žSheolÓ. Both the dissidents and Paul would agree that the life of a shadow, couldnŪt really be called žlivingÓ.› Being a žshadow in SheolÓ was no holiday with friends in Hawaii. (Xavier Leon-Dufour, ed., trans.› P. Joseph Cahill S.J.› Biblical Dictionary (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1967), Dufour p. 93).›
These Christian heretics taught something like this:› žWhen Christians die they donŪt rise bodily like Christ, they just float around like shadows or are annilhilated.Ó
Paul responds by saying: žSince Jesus was not only truly divine, he was also truly human. Therefore it was certainly not impossible that a human person could also rise from the dead.› Christ was human.› He was raised from the dead.
Later in this chapter verses 21 and 22, Paul uses the following argument to prove that human beings can likewise rise from the dead.› Paul says:› žYou, blockheads, would certainly agree that Christ was much greater than Adam.› Well Adam brought sin and death into the world of humankind.› These Corinthians took it for granted that Christ was much greater than Adam. So Paul says: žIf Christ could not conquer sin and death, it would mean that Adam was more powerful than Christ.Ó›
Paul says in verse 20, the final verse that we have read this morning:
žBut as it is, Christ is now raised from the dead,
the first fruits
of those who have fallen asleep.Ó 1 Cor 15: 20. (NAB)
››››››››››› Paul makes an important point with the words žfirst fruitsÓ.› The žfirst fruitsÓ of the harvest means that there are more žfruitsÓ to followůthatŪs us!› Christ wouldnŪt have been the žfirst fruitsÓ if there were no žfruitsÓ to follow.
But there is more. The most important part of ChristŪs resurrection is that he does not bodily reside someplace in the sky.› Through the eyes of Faith, we know that the whole Christůdivine, human and corporeallyůis with us.› We experience this presence of the Risen Christ in many ways but especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.› How could someone who in his whole person both spirit and body, consumed the whole Risen Christ, rot away forever in a grave or float around like a shadow! Like Christ we will be a complete and whole person.› Anything less would mean that Christ would not have equaled and outdone AdamŪs fiasco.
› SUMMARY› Supposing it happens that this very week someone asks us: žWhat do you Catholics believe.Ó We tell them that the foundation of our Faith is: žChrist died for our sins÷he was buried÷and rose on the third day.Ó He was seen, heard and touched by his followers.› His followers so strongly believed that they had encountered the Risen Jesus that they preferred death rather than to profess otherwise. More importantly through the eyes of Faith, we, Christians have experiences in which we, too, encounter the Risen Christ. We Christians believe that the Risen Christ is always with us. Sometimes we have very special experiences of his presence.› This happens in many ways throughout our day but especially when we gather together to celebrate the Eucharist and receive the body and blood, the Christ, the Risen Lord in Communion.›
OUR RESPONSE I hope by now you are drooling and wanting to run home, tear open your bibles to the fifteen chapter of PaulŪs letter to the Corinthians. It is the foundation teaching of our Faith.
›How many here are over sixty?› How many of you have pains and aches and malfunctioning organs?› If it is not too painful raise your hand.› I am sure that you will get a real kick out of reading what Paul says about our Risen life.› If grandma or grandpa canŪt read, read it to them.› I bet it will make their day!
Feb. 14, 2004›››››››› 6th Sunday of Year C
TWO WORDS: Resurrection Foundation of our Faith
TEXT: žBut in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.Ó
THEME:› ChristŪs Resurrection is the foundational experience of our Faith.
I experienced several times during the past week the person of the Risen Christ.› The highpoint was at this morningŪs Eucharist.
During the past week I carefully read, reread and reread chapter fifteen.› I thought of death.› I remembered my family members and friends who have died.› And I felt good.›
1.››››› Division of 1 Cor: 15:
15:›› 1-11››› Resurrection of Christ
15: 12-34›› The resurrection of believers
15: 35-58›› The "how" of bodily resurrection.
Jan Lambrecht, žI CorinthiansÓ, William R. Farmer (ed.), The International Commentary, (Collegeville, Minn: The Liturgical Press, 1998) p. 1627.
2.››››› ž[verse] 20 first fruits› ›This denotes more than first in time.› It is a Jewish cultic
term.› The offering of the aparche (first fruits) was the symbol of the dedication of the entire harvest to God.› So, the resurrection of Christ involves the resurrection of all who are in him.Ó› Richard Kugelman, žThe First Letter to the CorinthiansÓ, Raymond E. Brown et al, Jerome Biblical Commentary, (Englewood, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1968) Vol. II, p. 273).› The logic is that if Christ is the žfirst fruitsÓ then there are more of us to come!
3. žOur bodiliness also is the natural basis for our solidarity with others and through
them with God.› We are human insofar as we are oriented toward others.› And our orientation toward others is made possible and necessary by our bodiliness.› The doctrine of the resurrection of the body is the foundation for the doctrine of the Communion of Saints. Thus life after death is communal life.› And thus, too, the resurrection of the body cannot be achieved until the consummation of history itself.Ó› Richard P. McBrien, Catholicism Study Edition, (Minneapolis, MN: Winston Press, 1981) p.1150.
4.› žIt is alarming, therefore, that there is a crisis of resurrection faith among people
who claim the name ŽChristianŪ Objective surveys made in certain countries among church-going Christians prove that about 70% of these Christian [sic] not really believe in ChristŪs resurrection.› In one particular country a survey was made among students of Catholic› ›colleges (students who had received regular religious instruction for no less than 12).› It appeared that 70% of them did not believe in the resurrection of Christ as an event in no matter what sense. ŽThe Resurrection of Jesus,Ū so writes a Catholic teenager student, Žmeans to me that his idea of a life of service to others is still alive today.ŪÓ›› John Linskens, žThe Foundational Experience of the Early Christian MovementÓ RPT 115 (Manila: East Asian Pastoral Institute, 1977) pp. 1-2.
žWe said that is also and foremost an internal event.› We certainly do not want to say that Jesus just rose in the faith of his followers.› Something happened to Him first before something happened to his followers: He was raised from the dead by God, but then this resurrection was revealed to the disciples, which meant a total change taking place in them.Ó› Ibid. p. 4.
5. žAccording› to the belief of›› primitive›› peoples,› long›› conserved› in the› OT.› Death
is, nevertheless, not total annihilation.› While the body is placed in an earthen grave, something of the dead person, a shadow, persists in Sheol. ÷There all the dead share the same miserable lot.Ó Xavier Leon-Dufour,› ed.,› trans.› P. Joseph Cahill S.J.› Biblical Dictionary (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1967), p. 93).›
Feb. 14, 2004›››››››› 6th Sunday of Year C
1.› __T/F› Some of the Corinthians denied that Jesus was raised from the dead.
2.›› Paul reminds us that by the words› "f_______››› f_______Ó that we too are invited to› follow Jesus in
››››› being raised from the dead.
3.›› How might a Hong Kong person who observes popular religious practices (žbaai shanÓ) describe
››››› existence after death ?
4.› How might a Hong Kong practicing Buddhist describe existence after death?
5.› How might a Hong Kong› teenager describe existence after death?