By Fr Francis Anthony
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
Theme: Jesus, Lamb of God
My dear friends,
Very appropriate reading and the readings, the three we have, and the Responsorial Psalm. This is just the Second Sunday, Ordinary Sunday of the Year 2023. And the readings are making us to see two realities, Who Are We? and the second, What Is Our Role? Very appropriate text to be given to us at this stage of our liturgical year to look into.
And in the Second Reading, Saint Paul writing to the Corinthians, and those are the under the Greeks, the Empire is Roman but they are the Greeks, the learned people of those times. And he is telling them and I read the text:-
Greetings to the Church of God. (He is writing to Corinth, the community).
Greetings to the Church of God.
Then he goes to explain what is this ‘Church‘ and he says:-
The people, the holy people of Jesus Christ.
It is just not just a Church, you might think it is a building. It is a community and they are the holy people of Christ who have taken their place with all the saints. And this makes a good reference.
The Church began in Israel, modern day Israel. And Corinth is far away, beyond Turkey and in Greece and they got to know the message of Christ late. And yet he says:-
You take your places among the saints everywhere.
You are not a second-class citizen. You are equal in dignity with all the other people. And the word is used ‘saints‘ in the scripture. All the people who are followers of Christ are called ‘saints‘. Do not have saints in your mind like this. So this is our dignity.
The same applies to us, the church in Penang. The holy people of Christ. And you are equal, okay, one and the same in dignity to the people in Rome. Then that is establishing Who We Are.
In the First Reading, what is our role? And here it says:-
I’ll make you to be the light of the nations.
That’s our role. It is not okay to be saints and all but the Church is teaching, and this text coming from Prophet Isaiah written seven hundred years before Christ was born. And here it says you have to be that. It is not enough to be a servant but more, that you bring the Good News or the last line of the reading says:-
Make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
And so it is reflecting us:-
You are the holy people, you are the church but now our role is to bring the light of Christ to others.
And the Gospel text, if you are familiar with it, John the Baptist indicating the coming of Christ:-
Behold the Lamb of God. The one who by his death is saving us.
So we are the redeemed people due to Christ and today, as the Church in Penang, yes the Parish of CHS, but we are the Church in Penang, are we conscious of who we are?
We will say:-
Yes I am a Catholic, go to church and all’. It is more than that. ‘I have come to worship the Lord who has given Himself to me, who dies for me and more, who is giving His body and blood to me so that I, in this area of the church in the world, will be able to bring Christ to others.
And the text here says:-
To be witnesses of the Chosen One.
So our life is we are the holy people and our role is to make Christ known. It is not the role of just Pope Francis and the Cardinals. It is all of us. And when we, hopefully when we realise this, will be able to respond to what we have been singing in the Responsorial Psalm:-
Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.
Yes, it is not just asking God ‘Give me your grace, give me your power.’ No. ‘I have come to do Your will.‘
And when we look into this, then He is helping in the, I’m not able to go through all the text, He has put new song into my mouth. He is giving me the ability to preach, not necessary to be standing in the pulpit. To be able to make Him known.
You did not ask for holocaust or victim. You ask me. The gift of myself. Very often when we offer to God, we are fighting what we want to give, which is the best. Here it is saying the gift of self.
My God, I delight in your law. I delight in your teaching. I delight in your direction.
As what Pope Francis said a few years ago. He wants us to be people who reach out to the peripheries. Yes, the Church has to be there. You cannot ask your Parish Priest, Fr Joachim, to be in all the places.
But you, being strengthened by the Eucharist and the Word, you are bringing Christ. That is our role. And when we see this role that we have to play, we will get to know why is it we come to church every Sunday.
Yes, for some, they are here every day also. To be able to recognise my status and to be able to have the strength to bring Him to the others. Catholic is not just ‘I go to church, I pray, finish.’ It is to be a disciple of hope to all the people around us.
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