Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12

Blessings and Warnings

Popular Translation

1 Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that our ancestors traveled under a cloud and through the sea all together. 2 In the cloud and the sea, they were all “baptized” and became followers of Moses. 3 All of them ate the same spiritual food and 4 drank the same spiritual drink. They drank water from the same spiritual rock that followed them. That rock was Christ. 5 But God wasn’t pleased with them, because they died all over the desert. 6 This is a warning to us so we won’t want to do evil things just like they did.

10 Don’t grumble like they did. They were killed by a dark angel. 11 All this happened around the same time as an example. It was written in the Bible as a warning for us who live in last days of the world. 12 So, this is a message to the person who thinks he can stand against these problems. Watch out! Otherwise you will fail.

Literal Translation

1 Now, I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under a cloud and all went through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For, they drank from the spiritual rock following (them), but the rock was the Christ. 5 But, God did not think much of most of them, for they were overthrown in the desert. 6 These (things) became our (negative) impressions, for us not to be desirous of evil, just as they desired.

10 Do not grumble, just like some of them grumbled, and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 But, these (things) happened together to them as a (negative) impression, but it was written for our admonition, upon whom the completion of the age has arrived. 12 So, the (one) thinking to stand up (as righteous), let (him) look out, lest he might fall.

10:1-4a Paul interpreted the history of Israel as midrash. This form of interpretation focused on the meanings of individual words and grammatical forms, while it used one verse to interpret another. The lens for interpretation was the rabbinical tradition of teachings. The images of the cloud, the sea, the manna, and the water from the rock could be found in Psalms 78 and 106, Nehemiah 9:9-21.

Paul chose these images in their relation to Christian worship. The cloud was like the incense found in the Temple; it was a sign of divine presence. The sea/water and spiritual food were sacramental images for Baptism and Eucharist.

1:3c “ but the rock was the Christ” Paul wove two images for "rock" together. The permanence and stability of God were rock-like (Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Samuel 22:2; Psalms 18:2; 71:3). But Moses gave the Israelites water from a rock (Exodus 17:6); Paul used this as a baptismal image for the Corinthians. Together, Paul implied that the permanence and life-giving qualities of the Christ.

1:6, 11 “(negative) impression” This word in Greek referred to the impression a stamp made by a die. The word could also be translated as “example” or “warning.”

In these verses, Paul listed the blessings upon and the evil deeds of the Israelites in the Exodus. In doing so, Paul used the Exodus as an example that had parallels with the community he wrote to. The Corinthians had been blessed with salvation (notice the images of divine presence and sacrament found in 10:1-4a), but now they grumbled and bickered, as cliques within the community squabbled for power. By making the parallel, Paul warned the faithful at Corinth not to become presumptuous. They, too, could suffer the same fate as the Israelites.

Our attitude reveals our spiritual direction. We have blessings that will never end. But, do we take our blessings for granted? Do we complain when we do not think we have enough? Those who walked with God and saw him in action failed the test in many ways. How do we measure up?

Take time this week for an honest self-evaluation. Do you grumble too much in your spiritual life? Do put your complaints before the Lord. But take time to listen to God.