Year B: 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 3: 1-6
St Paul is still on the defensive having been accused of being an unreliable apostle by those who had themselves come to the community at Corinth with letters of recommendation.
He insists that he needs no such letter because the community itself is witness to his integrity and apostleship.
Whereas others need letters written in ink the “letter” that is the people of Corinth has been written by the Holy Spirit. Rather than a Law carved on stone tablets, the Corinthians have written the Law upon their hearts. He is showing the Corinthians that he knows they belong to the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah generations before: I will put My Law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people.
This is a more authentic sign that Paul has evangelised the community in the name of the living God. It is not a task that needs conventional qualifications - God is doing something new and gives the commission to those He deems fit - even if others question His choice.
St Paul goes so far as to say that written letters can even bring death to a community - those written by the Spirit can only bring life.
Even in our day, we have to discern what is life-giving and what is not. Formal qualifications can help - but are not to be seen as the only means to judge whether someone is speaking authentically on behalf of God or not.
The test is, as St Paul suggests, to look at the heart of a person - or of a community.
Do they live according to the letter of the law - or according to its spirit? Do they have the law written on their hearts and with them all the time - or only in books which can be replaced on bookshelves when they are finished with? Does their life give life to others - or does it diminish them?
What does it mean for me?
© 2006 Wellspring