This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church.
1 Corinthians 10:14-22
My beloved ones, avoid idolatry. I am speaking as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I am saying.
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ?
The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one Body, for we all partake of the one loaf. Look at Israel according to the flesh; are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? So what am I saying? That meat sacrificed to idols is anything? Or that an idol is anything? No, I mean that what they sacrifice,
they sacrifice to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to become participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons.
You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealous anger? Are we stronger than him?
Jesus said to his disciples:
“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?
I will show you what someone is like who comes to me,
listens to my words, and acts on them.
That one is like a man building a house,
who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock;
when the flood came, the river burst against that house
but could not shake it because it had been well built.
But the one who listens and does not act
is like a person who built a house on the ground
without a foundation.
When the river burst against it,
it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.”
Both Paul and Jesus are talking about fundamental allegiance. Paul distinguishes three things: The crucified and risen body of Christ; the sacramental body of Christ; the body of Christ which is the body of believers. When there is true allegiance to Christ, these three are a unity: by their faith in the crucified and risen Christ, believers are united in his life, which is celebrated in the Lord’s Supper. When the true allegiance is broken by faith in an idol, this unity is also broken. This issue (eating of food sacrificed to idols) seems a long way from modern life. But if we simply take the concept of an offering made to idols, we may see that those whose who offer more of their lives to idols of money, power, and success, than to Christ, are also in breach of the ideal unity of believer and Lord: the life of Christ does not flow through them.
Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter, knew a bit about trees. “You know them by their fruit” he said. The person is a living whole. Evil actions are not accidental: they are the fruit of character, as are good actions. He also knew that a good house was an organic unity, and that the upper stories were strong if the foundations were strong. He also knew that it was OK to build on sand (as Matthew the gospel writer did not, see Matthew 7:24-27) but that in all cases a foundation was necessary.
Jesus defines true faith as obedience: the act of obeying Jesus’ commandment is the laying of a foundation on which an unshakeable faith can be built. The foundation/ ground plan determines the shape and the stability of the house, so Jesus’ way is expressed in every part of the building. If the foundation / ground plan is not obedience to Jesus, the building will lack this unity and strength.
These metaphors of the Christian life are still of use to all believers. The mad Koran-burning pastor and the mad screaming Islamic protesters are equally bad fruit and houses without foundation.