Scripture Reading for Today: 2 Corinthians 1:1-7 (read it here)
Following the sending of 1 Corinthians, Timothy, Paul’s companion, visited Corinth, and discovered that the situation there had not improved. Responding to this emergency, Paul paid an immediate visit to Corinth. He later referred to this visit as “painful.”
Leaving Corinth, Paul decided not to visit again until he had sent a letter “in much distress and anguish of the heart” (2 Corinthians 2:4). It is possible that this letter was lost.
Soon after the Corinthians received this agonized letter, Titus, another fellow worker of Paul, visited Corinth, and found the community repentant because of Paul’s letter. Returning to Paul in Macedonia, Titus brought the happy news. In the early fall of 57 a.d., rejoicing at the news of the Corinthian repentance, Paul then wrote the letter to the church at Corinth that became 2 Corinthians.
In 2 Corinthians Paul writes as a man who knows trouble to those who are in trouble; and so, he underscores the motif of encouragement; and in today’s reading the word “encouragement” occurs ten times.
In the early years of Christianity, those who chose to become Christians, chose to face trouble. Often, it was abandonment by their own family, hostility from their neighbors, and persecution from the official powers. Actually, it is always a costly thing to be a real Christian, for there can be no Christianity without its cross.
The answer to this suffering is not grim and bleak acceptance of trouble, but triumph over pain and discouragement.
Paul affirms that the difficulties he also has experienced in his ministry have been more than offset by the consolation and encouragement with which God has supported him.
Paul recognizes that the Corinthians will also face problems because of their Christian confession. But his own sufferings and those of Christ should also be a source of encouragement for them.
Paul is realistic about “the cost of discipleship,” but he is confident in the power of “the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement,” who will strengthen the Corinthians as they face the challenges of living an authentic Christian life.
Paul was quite sure that God never sends us a task without the strength to do it. As the silver comes purer from the fire, so the Christian can emerge finer and stronger from hard days. The Christian is the athlete of God whose spiritual muscles become stronger from the discipline of difficulties.
And Paul hopes that his words and his experience will prepare the Corinthians to deal with the conflicts within their local Church and the challenges that will come from those outside their community.
Our source of strength and encouragement is the close contact with the Lord that we establish in the Eucharist.
Let us also be people who encourage others in their struggles and difficulties.
Following the example of Mary, let us endure the difficulties Christian life brings and not give up following Jesus.
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Que la palabra de Cristo habite y se sienta a gusto en ustedes (Col. 3:16)
Let us make this a blessed day.
Keep Jesus in your mind and heart and share him with all you meet.
Fr. Michael Brizio, IMC
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