Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
The Power of God's Gift
3 God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ send you the gracious gift of their life. And they send you their peace.
4 I always thank God about you! God gave you his very life as followers of Jesus Christ. 5 And, he has enriched everything you know and say. 6 After all, you found everything we told you about Christ was true. 7 So, you will never lack in any of God's gifts, as you wait for Jesus to return. 8 God will keep you strong and innocent until the very end, the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ! 9 You can trust God. He made you friends with Jesus Christ, our Lord.
3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
4 I always thank my God concerning you about the grace of God having been given to you in CHRIST JESUS, 5 that, in HIM, you were enriched in every matter, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 just as the witness of CHRIST was confirmed in you, 7 so that you will (certainly) not be lacking in any spiritual gift, awaiting the revealing of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, 8 who will also confirm you until the finale, guiltless in the Day of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into fellowship with his SON, our LORD JESUS CHRIST.
1:6 "you will (certainly) not be lacking in any spiritual gift" The word "any" is actually "no." Hence the clause has a double negative ("not...no"). This adds emphasis to the negative which the word "certainly" supplies in English.
Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians addressed the controversies that tore the community apart. As explained in last week's reflection, Corinth was a cosmopolitan port city. Not only was the city known for its multi-cultural mix, it was also known for its cult to Aphrodite and its fertility rites. The title of "Sin City" for Corinth would not be too far off the mark. St. Paul wrote the letter with an eye toward the city's nature, as much as the infighting among the cliques in the community.
St. Paul began all his letters with a standard greeting. While the salutation ("to" and "from") is not present in this reading (1:1-2), the greeting of God's "grace" (a reference of God' presence for the Greek Christians in his audience) and "peace" (a reference for the Jewish Christians) is listed.
Then, Paul reminded his readers of their privileged position before God. God's grace created a reciprocal relationship among the believers; it "enriched" the knowledge and speech of the followers as it caused a "confirmation" of faith. In other words, grace causes people to believe and it deepens their faith commitment. In fact, the deepening of faith in some of the community causes more faith among others. This was all a gift from God.
The "enrichment-confirmation" cycle grace created would sustain the Corinthians until the Final Judgment. And the Corinthians would stand innocent before in this Judgment. Why? God gave them his gracious gift and he could be trusted. After all, God created a bond of fellowship between believers and their Savior, Jesus Christ.
This brief introduction set up Paul's response to the first of many controversies addressed in the letter: the question of missionary authority.
We, like the Corinthians, must never forget the power of God's gift. God's very life changed us and sustains us with hope, even in the bleakest times. It gives us faith and deepens that gift.
How has God's grace changed you? How has the deep faith of others helped your faith?