Sunday Scripture readings: Jan. 15, 2023

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

First reading: Is 49:3, 5-6
Responsorial Psalm: 40:2, 4, 7-10
Second reading: 1 Cor 1:1-3
Gospel: Jn 1:29-34

By Kevin Perrotta | Catholic News Service

Sufficient evidence against the notion that the New Testament church enjoyed an unalloyed golden age is Paul’s first letter to the Christian community in Corinth.

From the 16 chapters of chiding and corrections, we can see that the believers in Corinth were cliquish and competitive and litigious (against each other), had mixed views (including a favorable one) about incest in their midst, were confused about marriage, took a mistaken approach to interacting with the pagan religion around them and … well, the list goes on. Golden the Corinthian church was not.

Writing to them must have been a piece of work for Paul. Responding to his letter would have been an even bigger piece of work for the Corinthians. They had a lot of self-examining to do. It wasn’t going to be easy to recognize their un-Christian attitudes, to change how they thought about themselves and each other, to improve the ways they treated each other.

In Chapter 13, Paul wrote to them about love (“Love is patient, love is kind.”). They had a long way to grow toward that.

Paul didn’t write to them in a judgmental way. But there was so much that needed to be transformed in their life together that I can easily believe they felt a little deflated when they got to the end of his letter.

Probably the reason I intuit this reaction is that I am prone to discouragement about the transformative work that needs to be done in the church today and, even more, in me.

As I think about this, my attention is drawn to a word at the beginning of Paul’s letter, which is in our liturgical reading today. The word is “grace.” “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” “Grace” means a gift given freely, something undeserved, given from the giver’s love.

Everything the Corinthians need for developing their lives and community according to God’s call will come to them as grace. God will help them because their transformation has been his idea even before it became their idea. Their life in him has been his gift and will always be his gift.

It is notable that Paul ends the letter with an almost identical blessing (1 Cor 16:23). The first and last thing he has to say to the Corinthians — and to us — is “grace.”

Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Author: Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ news and information service.

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