THE CROWN OF THE YEAR
Weekly Paragraphs for the Holy Sacrament
By Austin Farrer
Dacre Press, Westminster
ST PAUL glories in his heroic sufferings; looking back on them, he would not be without them. Some of them are splendid and dramatic, but others of them, even in retrospect, are boring and miserable: appeasing Jewish spite or neutralising Christian treason, sitting up when he was dropping with sleep, working on when he was tired and longed to stop. Besides his own burdens, there are everyone else’s: ‘Who is sick at heart and I am not sick, who falls from grace and I do not die of shame?’ He takes his friends into his heart, both for good and for evil, and in this above all he may justly glory. It is the living out of our unity in Christ, that we should care for one another with the heart of Christ, and by our prayers throw ourselves into the deepest concerns of our friends. Let us not offer this holy sacrifice without praying for some other man, as though we were that man himself. It is an excellent thing, indeed, often to say all the prayers of the eucharist in the place and person of another man saying them; being that man in God’s sight, so far as we know how.
I like how this author characterized Paul’s sufferings in 2 Cor 11:19-12:9 as heroic, but also as boring and miserable too at times. The holy ministry is all of that, and then some, and Paul had a greater share than most. (I can also identify with that line about dropping with sleep, for various reasons; also the part about having to work when you long to stop. Sometimes life is like that.) Also perceptively highlighted are everyone else’s burdens besides his own. The faithful pastor well knows what those are like, just as the belly server never will — but then again, he won’t receive the reward of the faithful at the end either. (Brief note: When he talks about the holy sacrifice toward the end, he’s referring to the thanksgiving and praise we offer as part of the holy Sacrament of the Altar. He may have meant the Sacrament itself, but that’s an unevangelical, unbiblical, and untrue interpretation, so we deny it here.)
ht: lectionary central