The second reading of the Liturgy of the Word on Sundays always comes from the New Testament, usually from a letter written in the early apostolic times. St. Paul the Apostle, one of the most widely traveled of the Apostles, wrote extensively. Selections from his writings make up the majority of our second readings.
Paul’s relationships with the various Christian communities that he founded through his missionary life were notoriously complicated. The group of Christians in Corinth gave Paul a lot to think about and worry about. They were competitive, vain, contentious, and way too conscious of social class.
In the second reading for tomorrow, Paul uses the Scriptures in an important way. He makes a comparison between the people in the community in Corinth and what the Scriptures tell us about the Hebrew people after God freed them from Egypt.
Paul draws comparisons between the two groups, talking as if the ancient Israelites had their sacraments, just as the Corinthians have Christian sacraments. Of the Hebrew people, Paul says, “All of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.” (1 Corinthians 10:2-4)
But, Paul says, this did not mean automatic salvation for them, just as our Christian sacraments do not mean automatic salvation for us. Sacraments reflect a life of discipleship, and that life is what is crucial. It’s all too easy to receive a sacrament and then live as if we didn’t. It’s all too easy to do a ritual and then contradict its meaning by our next action.
The Scriptures, then, serve as a warning for those who do not live out their calling. No one is saved just by going through the rites. They are saved because they experience in their lives what the rites are trying to reveal.
What is your attitude toward salvation? Do you ever find yourself presuming you are saved?
Think of someone who has slipped from practicing his or her faith. Think of ways you might reach out to this person between now and Easter. What kind of invitation might you extend?
Lord, help me be conscious of the need I have to grow continually in faith. Help me avoid pride and arrogance. Make me aware of the threats and dangers to my faith. Help me be support, in faith to others, especially those who seem to have wandered from you. I pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus, and his Spirit.
READINGS FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15; Psalm 103:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9
PSALM RESPONSE: The Lord is kind and merciful.