The Word of the Day (Sunday, September 11)
The word of the day is “watch.” In today’s reading of 1 Cor. 16:13-24, St. Paul closes his letter with these final instructions: “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love” (vs. 13). This passage brings to mind the image of a sentinel who does guard duty against all enemies. There is no need for such a lookout in times of peace and security. But in times of war and the threat of danger, then such a watchman is critical. In St. Paul’s mind, we must always be watchful for the threats to our souls and to the church.
All the moral chaos and faithlessness surrounding us should remind us that “The Kingdom of God suffers violence” in this world (Matthew 11:12). Moreover, the state of our own souls also shows us that, like St. Paul, “we have not finished the fight” (1 Cor. 9:26-27). So, we must be ever watchful for attack lest the unbelief of this age and the temptations of our souls overcome us.
St. John Chrysostom comments that in our reading, St. Paul was referring to his opponents in Corinth, the deceivers, the conspirators, and the dividers and detractors who had taken over the congregation (NPFP 1/12, 265). But for us the dangers may not be so clear. What then should we watch for? The answer is that anything that is against love has the potential to divide us from God or neighbor. So then, we should make sure to protect love against hatred, bitterness, jealously, quarrelling, and selfishness. Instead, we should foster love in all circumstances, especially those of tension and struggle.
For reflection: the desert father, Poeman said, “The beginning of evil is heedlessness” (Ward, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, 173). What are the ways and means that you can use to stand on guard bravely and boldly against all the dangers to your soul and the Church?