MEMORIAL OF SAINT PETER CLAVER, PRIEST
1 Corinthians 7:25-31
Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that. I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
Psalm 45:11-12, 14-17
Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear;
forget your people and your father’s house,
and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him;
The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes; in many-colored robes she is led to the king; behind her the virgins, her companions, follow. With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.
In the place of ancestors you, O king, shall have sons; you will make them princes in all the earth.
Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.
In our reading today from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the heart of the message is to not be overly attached to the world, but to treat it as something temporary. The church is the bride of Christ and, like the bride of the king in the psalm, is leaving behind the life and the house she knew for the glory of her lord. So St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that they will be leaving behind the world and the life they know for the glory of their Lord in the kingdom that is to come. That is not to say that those in the church should completely abandon the lives they are leading, but rather to conduct them with a detachment and to be truly invested in the kingdom of God rather than in accumulating earthly wealth, success, honors, and such.
It is a similar message to what Jesus preaches in His Beatitudes, in His famous sermon on the mount. Jesus proclaims as blessed the poor, for they are not overly attached to wealth; the hungry, because they are not attached to their own satisfaction and fulfillment; those who weep, because they are not overly attached to happiness; those who are hated, because they are not slaves to what others think of them. The converse of these beatitudes, the woes, are all things that attach the soul to the world rather than the kingdom of heaven. Those who have riches, are satisfied and happy, and who are thought well of have power in the kingdom of earth and may struggle to trade it for the kingdom of heaven. This of course is the greatest mistake and the greatest woe, because the kingdom of heaven surpasses the kingdom of earth and it is the eternal kingdom that does not pass away, whereas this earth is passing.
Where do I have power and privilege in this world? What things attach me to this earth rather than the kingdom of God? How can I subordinate my privileges and attachments to love of God and neighbor, and use what privilege I have for the sake of the kingdom?
Today, let’s pray for the grace to desire the things of God over the things of earth, and for the strength to make any necessary sacrifices of our substance, fulfillment, and even happiness and reputation to be more united with our Lord and to gain the rewards of His kingdom.