Saints Cornelius and Cyprian (see below)
1st Reading: 1 Timothy 3:14-16
The church is entrusted with the mystery of salvation, meant for the whole world
I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.
Gospel: Luke 7:31-35
Some will not respond to others, whether by dancing or mourning
Jesus said to his disciples, “To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon;’ the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
Saint Cornelius, pope, and Cyprian, bishop, martyrs.
Cornelius was bishop of Rome from 251-253 in a time of severe persecution under the emperors Decius and Gallus. His mild, pastoral style in dealing with those who had lapsed to save their lives was rejected by the anti-pope, Novation, but was supported by the highly-esteemed Cyprian of Carthage.
The Church as a family
Ideally, the members of the church are all “members of God’s household.” First Timothy quotes a confession of faith, popular among believers. The Gospel cites a piece of ancient wisdom, echoing the Book of Proverbs and repeated from parent to child, rabbi to student. Paul most probably did not compose the hymn to charity but drew on a well-known hymnic statement of the early church.
A good family is never monotonous and its members are respectful of each others’ giftedness. Paul envisaged a church gifted with many talents: prophecy, comprehension of mysteries, generosity in feeding the poor, even willing to die for the faith. But he also knew that some can put on airs and become snobbish. They can be rude or prone to anger, whereas all true gifts should be united in love. There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love. To love in such an way, the leaders of God’s household cannot be dominant autocrats or narrow careerists, but people who care deeply for the family of the church. If there is strength in unity, these are the people who strengthen our common faith.
Dancing to his tune
Jesus uses a striking image to describe how the people of his generation responded to his ministry and that of John the Baptist. They are like children who refuse to dance when other children in the playground play the pipes; they are also like children refuse to cry when other children in the playground sing dirges. Jesus identifies himself with those who play the pipes and John with those who sing dirges. It is interesting to think of Jesus as a piper who plays a tune that invites people to dance to it. In a sense, that is what we are about as followers of Jesus. We are people who dance to Jesus’ tune. We often use that phrase of dancing to someone’s tune in our day to day conversation. The gospel reading suggests that as followers of Jesus we are people who try to attune ourselves to his rhythm, to his music, and then, having done so, to try and move in time with his music. In other words we are to allow the music that Jesus plays by his life, death and resurrection, the song that he sings, to shape our lives. That particular image suggests that attentive and ongoing listening is very important in our relationship with the Lord, because we can only move to music that we listen attentively to, and that, in some sense, has become part of us. Mary was an attentive listener to the Lord’s word, and she, more than anyone, is the person whose life is in tune with the song, with the music, of Jesus. Her own song, the Magnificat, is very much in keeping with the song of Jesus, the message and the life of Jesus. She is our model and our inspiration as we try to sing to Jesus’ tune.