June 14, 2017
Brothers and sisters:
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you?
You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all,
3shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us, written not in ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.
Such confidence we have through Christ toward God.
Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit
for anything as coming from us;
rather, our qualification comes from God,
who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant,
not of letter but of spirit;
for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life.
– 2 Corinthians 3:1-6
Today we find the scriptural home of the adage: "God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called."
What a profoundly reassuring thought when we feel that He has called us beyond our reach, that the glory of God surpasses all. It must make up for our shortcomings, because as we find later in the reading:
For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious,
the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory.
Indeed, what was endowed with glory
has come to have no glory in this respect
because of the glory that surpasses it.
For if what was going to fade was glorious,
how much more will what endures be glorious.
Here, Paul breaks down what it truly means that Jesus does not abolish the law, but fulfill it (from today's Gospel). The glory of God has been increased so exponentially by Jesus' redemption that, quite simply, the old rules pale in comparison, not losing any of their force, but overwhelmed by Christ. In the way that your kitchen table possesses the same capacity for gravity as the Earth, so too the law and the prophets point us toward God, but when unity with God is possible through Jesus' incarnation, we no longer look for symbols and signifiers but the true presence of Christ himself.
[Here I take a moment to remind you: Jesus Christ is completely, totally, and truly present with us in the Eucharist. He is material, he takes up physical space, and he is radically near.]
Today, from Paul's very words, we have an argument against legalism that can sometimes sneak into our Catholic faith. We are tempted to idolize the rituals and routines, the language and the smells, the look of Catholicism, yet we must be reminded that these are symbols that will never satisfy a heart that desires a person rather than things.
I will close with the rest of 2 Corinthians 3. Pray with this scripture and stir up the flame of longing in your heart for unity with God:
Therefore, since we have such hope, we act very boldly
and not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites could not look intently at the cessation of what was fading.
Rather, their thoughts were rendered dull, for to this present day the same veil remains unlifted when they read the old covenant, because through Christ it is taken away.
To this day, in fact, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their hearts,
but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Praised be Jesus Christ, toward whom all our longings are oriented.