Year B: Year of Mark
First Sunday in Advent
Second Reading: Corinthians 1: 3-9
Although St Paul was addressing his letter to the small community at Corinth, his words apply to us just as strongly - perhaps even more strongly that they did to those who first read them.
The Corinthians fully expected Jesus to return at any time - a belief they shared with all early Christians. Although they were already experiencing prejudice and persecution, they were strengthened by their conviction that it would not be long before Christ returned in glory and took them to their heavenly reward.
Two thousand years later we are still waiting!
In that two thousand years, the Church has had her times of strength and vigour and times when faith has had to fight against the prevailing culture. Some would say that the Church is often at her strongest and most vigorous when she is fighting against oppression and persecution. At those times, people often find that the choices are very stark - to live for God as a disciple of Jesus, the Christ - or to compromise with what is obviously wrong.
At those times, people have to fall back on the gifts that God has given to them through the Spirit - the gifts of wisdom - courage - fortitude. Often they find that the gifts are stronger than they had ever imagined they could be and, as St Paul says, allow them to be kept steady and to live without compromising their faith in God.
Perhaps a greater problem for the Church is where she lives in a culture that is apathetic or complacent. Where people see no need for faith, it is hard for the Church to evangelise. When people without faith seem to prosper, it can be hard for others to stay faithful to a God who promised to come back - but who hasnít yet.
The gifts of the Spirit are as urgently needed then - as is good teaching and preaching - so that people are held steady in their faith and learn to wait in joyful hope for the coming of their Saviour, Jesus Christ - and to remember that God is faithful and fulfils His promises - though not always as His human children predict He will!
What does it mean for me?
What is the culture in the world today?
What spiritual gifts do we need - to stay faithful ourselves - and to bring others to faith?
© 2008 Wellspring