The Price of Faith
Thoughts on the Second Reading – Joe Frankenfield
3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 12:12-30
“When the boat’s sinking, everybody bails,” my uncle Joe used to say. His point: when there’s work that has to be done, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve got planned or how you feel; you pitch in till the job is finished. I hated that saying as a kid but it was hard to contest.
It’s difficult for us to identify with the thinking of the early church – even the thinking of Jesus himself. There’s urgency about it. Absolutes abound. Its judgments and demands never waver.
In our world of fluid situations and multiple visions the gospel seems naïve. “Nothing is that simple,” we find ourselves thinking. “What are the long-term consequences? What about people who see things differently? How do we know that our perspective is the right or even the best one? Where’s the fire?” we want to know. “Let’s calm down and consider alternatives.”
Jesus didn’t preach just anywhere or to just anybody. He preached to a smoldering world, a world where the smallest gust of trouble could and did stir an inferno. His world was massively unjust. Tremendous gaps existed between the rich and poor. Life was cheap. The powerful wrote and enforced the law to keep themselves in power. Ordinary people, the followers of Jesus, struggled constantly because if they stopped, they died. The sense that life had gone all wrong was deep: this couldn’t be what God wanted. Jesus offered a way forward, a path to the world of God’s promise. Wasted time meant wasted lives.
Our enthusiasm for Jesus’ gospel hangs on our ability to see the world from the Creator’s perspective. Unless the dissonance between the divine intent and the reality of the world’s powerless and suffering sets our teeth are set on edge, we’ll never make sense of the gospel’s immediacy.
Only if we feel an inescapable bond between ourselves and all who suffer will the gospel become our passion. Only that realization can transform the image of all people united in God, our Father from a sweet thought to the central focus of our hope.