Paul Was a Pragmatist
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

Paul is a pragmatist. He shares with the Corinthian community the fact that he is comfortable in his own skin and supremely confident in his being on the right track. He admits, however, that if given the chance he would prefer to be dead and gone to heaven, at home with the Lord.

But for the time being his faith supports him and he asserts that being tied to earth makes him no less certain of his eternal destiny.

And so he sums up this personal reflection by suggesting that in the final analysis, whether alive or dead, it is all about being pleasing to God.

That sounds simple enough but when you think about it, pleasing God is not exactly a habitual priority for most of us.

Clearly we are usually concerned with pleasing our clients, our customers, our fans our constituents, our employers. "Pleasing" is all about maintaining us in good stead politically, economically, socially and corporately.

Paul knew this. In his more introspective moments he probably recognized that this trait was not entirely foreign to his own nature.

And so if, as to be expected, their motivation is somewhat wanting, he suggests to his audience that they should at least consider that they are following a path that is impractical because the naked truth is that we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ. Not the judgement seat of our parents, not of our customers, not of our students, not of our employers, not of our children, not of our parishioners ...but of Christ ...the judgement seat of Christ. In order that, explains, Paul, each may receive what is coming to him or her.

Now, to most of us, that sounds a little ominous.

Having made his point, Paul moves to raise the quality of their motivation, as well as of ours, to a much higher level. He reminds us of Jesusí personal identification with each of us.

Identifying with us to the point where he accepted the entire burden of our personal and corporate sinfulness and gave his life in reparation for our crimes.

Can anyone even begin to grasp that and still cast about for a good reason to be "pleasing to the Lord?"

"COME ON!" cries Paul, "Let it be the love of Christ that urges us on" ...not our thirst for reward nor our fear of punishment ...but the love of Christ, and nothing else.


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