12 September 2006: Tuesday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time
1 Cor 6, 1-11; Ps 149; Lk 6, 12-19
With regards to offenses, the culture of the Jews is to settle their dispute among the elders of their village or the synagogue. For the Jews, disagreements are more settled in the spirit of family than of law. The Greeks find litigation entertaining. They would take their disputes to court. When Paul saw that the Corinthian Church was settling disputes the Greek way, he was shocked. Paul wanted the Christian way --- there a way of proceeding. They must settle it among themselves first; then it is settled within the church community. In the first reading, Paul seizes on the great essential principle. To go to law at all, and especially to go to law with a brother, is to fall far below the Christian standard of behavior. Long ago, Plato had laid it down that the good man will always choose to suffer wrong rather than to do wrong. If the Christian has even the remotest tinge of the love of Christ within his heart, he will rather suffer insult and loss and injury than try to inflict them on someone else --- still more so, if that person is a brother or a sister. To take vengeance is always an unchristian thing. A Christian orders his relations by the spirit of love; and the spirit of love will insist that he live at peace with his brother or sister. Ibig sabihin, mas gugustuhin ng Kristiyano ang magtiis sa mga paninirang ginagawa ng mga tao sa kanya, sa mga maling sinasabi ng mga tao sa kanya, kaysa gumawa ng masama sa kanila. The Prayer of Sacrifice that we say after communion every mass puts it aptly, “Teach my mind and direct my will to humbly endure the pain of undeserved suffering even when my intent was good and done what is right.”
The reason is that the Christian believes in the power of Christ to change people --- as St. paul enumerated the great sins, but it also includes those who accuse us wrongly, those who inflict pain on us. The power of Christ is still the same. No person can change oneself, but Christ can change him. A contemporary of St. Paul, Seneca declared, “men love their vices, and hate them at one and the same time.” He called himself, homo non tolerabilis, a man not to be tolerated. Since we love and hate our sins at the same time, our sins should not be tolerated. Into this world, conscious of a tide of decadence, sinfulness and darkness --- nowadays they call it, the culture of death --- nothing could stop, the radiant power of Christianity, which was triumphantly able to make all things new.
In other words, when Jesus chose his disciples, it is to make things new. We are his disciples, how do we make things new. Do we hope in people that they can change with God’s power? Or have we inflicted pain in vengeance? Would we rather get even or would we rather talk to them so that we may live in peace?