Holy Week Reflection

I’ll be giving a brief reflection at Vespers this evening. For whatever it’s worth, I’m posting that brief reflection here. The reading on which it’s based is I Corinthians 1:26-31. All quotations in the reflection are from the New American Bible’s translation of the text.

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“Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.”

Why does Paul say that?

In this passage, Paul’s saying something to us about where we should locate our sense of worth. Far too often, we measure our own value according to the things that our society considers important: wealth, intelligence, physical beauty, power, social status, and the like. If we’re fortunate enough to be blessed with those things, there’s a tendency to boast about them (as if we alone were responsible for them!). If we lack them, we think of ourselves as less worthy than those who have them. In either case, we’re missing the point, and basing our sense of worth on the wrong things.

Our worth doesn’t come from any of those things, and I think that’s a big part of Paul’s point here. We have worth because God values us. Just how much does God value us? Quite a lot, apparently. Paul tells us that Jesus “became for us wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” God values us so much that, in Jesus, God chose to become human, and to experience everything that human beings do. And we might want to take note of whom Jesus hung out with. He didn’t make it a point to seek out the rich, powerful, and “important” people in his society—though they were always welcome to join his company. Instead, he chose to forge relationships with those on society’s margins, like lepers or tax collectors. Jesus thought they were valuable and showed it by befriending them—enabling them to think of themselves as valuable.

During this Holy Week, we’re in the final stages of our preparation either to renew our baptismal commitment or to make it for the first time. In making or renewing that commitment, we celebrate the fact that Jesus has called us to be in relationship with him. Perhaps this is a good time also to remember and to celebrate the true source of our worth—God’s love for each of us, especially as that love is expressed in the events we celebrate this week.

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