In the second reading this weekend, the Apostle Paul reflects on the nature of his ministry. He is writing to the Corinthian community whom he “fathered” in faith but now is torn apart by divisions fostered by false apostles.
Despite the problems and hardships they face in their ministry, Paul and his coworkers are not discouraged, he says, but remain confident, because they believe that God will reward them later. “We are afflicted in every way,” he writes, “but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9).
In their difficulties, the apostles participate in the cross of Christ. Because they suffer with and for Christ, they also will experience his resurrection. Paul asserts that the effects of their mortality, the “wasting away” of their bodies, and the destruction of their “earthly tent[s]” in the present moment is well worth the sacrifice because they will receive eternal life in the future.
“All of this has been done for you,” Paul continues, “so more and more people will know how kind God is and will praise and honor him” (Contemporary English Version, 2 Cor. 4:14). The apostles work themselves to death, so that those they serve will have life through Christ.
Paul’s message is clear. To call ourselves God’s stewards involves a sacrifice of our time, talent, or treasure. But what we receive in return will be the “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
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