September 4, 2014 - THURSDAY 22ND WEEK:

1 CORINTHIANS 3:18-23 ; LUKE 5:1-11

THE WISDOM OF THIS WORLD IS FOOLISHNESS IN THE EYES OF GOD.  Saint Paul came to the conclusion contained in this lapidary phrase through his first personal experience of encounter with the glorified Christ.  He was overwhelmed by the event was proved to be a new birth of the inner man.  It proved to be the beginning of a fresh concept of the true wisdom that guided him for the remainder of his life.  On other occasions Paul felt constrained to stress this same insight that had revealed how misleading is the falsity of the wisdom of this world.  He returns to this theme for example in writing to the Philippians, warning them to beware of those Jews who gloried in the circumcision, sign of belonging to those favored by God.  "For we are the circumcision who serve God in the spirit and glory in Christ Jesus, not in the flesh."  In warning the Corinthians more than once he teaches the true reason for boasting, namely that of belonging to Christ.  In doing so he associates such a boast with wisdom. He states it in terms that echo Jeremiah: "May the one who boasts, glory in the Lord. It is not the one whom commends himself who is approved but the person God commends." (2 Cor 10:17,18) So impressed was Paul with this insight that he repeated it, having already told the Corinthians in an earlier epistle that God chose the ignoble of this world to confound the worldly wise.  He draws the same conclusion on this occasion adding "Let one who boasts, boast in the Lord." (1 Cor:1:31)

Paul had learned this lesson in humility not only from the shock of his violent experience of conversion. His careful, meditative reading of the prophet Jeremiah had enabled him to understand more clearly the implications of his encounter with the Lord whom he had been persecuting in the person of his faithful followers. He had read in the prophet:

The Lord says: Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, and let the strong boast in his strength, nor the rich man in his riches; rather let the boaster make his boast in this, that he understands and knows that I am the Lord, the One who acts with mercy, and judgment, and justice on the earth and that this is my will, says the Lord. (Jer. 9:23-24 LXX)
The final lines of today's Gospel text inculcate the same lesson.  Peter, recognizing the power of God inherent in the person of Jesus, is so impressed by the Lord's holiness of person that he feels unworthy to associate with him: "Depart from me, Lord, I am a sinful man", he exclaims.

As we approach the Lord Jesus who becomes present in this Eucharistic sacrifice this evening, we too acknowledge that we are unworthy to be with him.  Encouraged, however, by the same mercy he showed Peter, and relying on his love, we confidently receive him. By faith and gratitude we unite with Jeremiah and saint Paul as in this communion we glory in the Lord.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger