11th Thursday in Ordinary Time
2 Corinthians 11: 1 – 11; Ps 111; Matthew 6: 7 – 15
St. Paul taught, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh.” Surely, the most sacred, personal intimate way to do this is in our reception of the Most Holy Eucharist.
The Holy Eucharist continues the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus; He becomes flesh and blood in us, into us so that we, in all our humanity, continue the mystery “The Word became flesh” – He dwells in us, in you, in me. In the reading from 2 Corinthians, St. Paul makes a very personal and profound statement that certainly flows from his reception of the Holy Eucharist: “I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God.” What he proclaims is not pious rhetoric, rather strong conviction, divine passion. He has been taken over by God’s love, the divine jealous love and he is moved, I think we could say “impelled”, to love the people of faith of Corinth with that same jealous love.
Perhaps, the word “jealous” troubles us – it resonates a certain negativity because it denotes resentment, bitter rivalry, being consumed with envy. When we pray the Our Father, we petition the Father to deliver us from such evil.
However, the Greek word in the New Testament means much more and is very positive – it can mean “to have strong affection, to be ardently devoted, to be zealous.” St. Paul embodies for us this love; his life is an example of living God’s ardent love, God’s strong, affective love, God passion or zeal. What he says of himself is an invitation to us who hear his word to seek, to desire and thus live such love. Did not Paul say, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ”?
We are so graced and privileged to receive the Most Holy Eucharist every day – should not the evident effect of this sacred act, this profound experience of the Father’s jealous love through the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus be seen in our own love – a love that grows in zeal, in affection, in steadfastness, in desire?
St. Paul was not boasting as he himself said; rather with humble honesty his admission “I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God” stands for all time as the word of God to us who pray “teach me Your word!”