8th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C
TESTED BY TRIBULATION
The Book of Sirach is a collection of lessons from an old religion teacher. It offers practical advice on a variety of topics--sort of a "Life Instruction Manual". Today's reading is a parallel to Jesus' advice in the Gospel: "From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks."
The author says that it is impossible to know a person's true character without seeing how that person reacts under stress. He compares it to the situation of a pottery maker who cannot be certain of the outcome of a clay object until it is fired in an oven.
THE "STING" OF DEATH
One of Paul's favorite themes is that the negative law of the Old Testament by has been replaced by the positive law of Christian love. He will develop this idea in his Letter to the Romans. Today he introduces it as a conclusion to his discussion of the resurrection. He paraphrases Hosea 13:14, comparing death to wasp that implants its "stinger" in a victim. Death's stinger is sin. Death has no power in an environment of love. We know that the Father's love will bring us to eternal life; so we no longer have to fear death or sin. We will win a victory through the power of Christ.
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