2 Corinthians 7:2-16 and a homily on the second letter to the Corinthians by St. John Chrysostom
24 July 2022
I was struck by the theme of the opening psalm in today’s Office of Readings, “There are two ways a man may take.” In the Didache, the very first lesson is that there are two paths: one that leads to life and one that leads to death. There is a great difference between the two. The path that leads to life is the way of the cross. We must die to sin and to this world by choosing to repent of our sinful ways. We do that by ordering our lives to all that Jesus taught us in the Gospels; that God should be our very first priority in life. This isn’t easy to do because it involves making radical changes in our behavior, in our habits, in our priorities. These are fundamental changes that must take place. This leads to the next part: the sadness.
This sadness isn’t for the life that we leave. It’s a different kind of sorrow; it’s deeper, more terrifying. As St. Paul states, being filled with a sorrow that comes from God, leads to repentance. Now the choice is to accept that the sorrow that we feel so deeply in our souls… or not. When we realize that this sorrow is aligned with our Father’s sorrowful pity for His child, we ought to rejoice that we have contrite hearts, the sacrifice that God will not spurn. The sorrow that we have for leading a sinful life is shared with God; it turns to consolation, because those who mourn will be consoled. This leads to a radical conversion. This powerful experience is something that we desire for others. It leads us into a spiritual unity with St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians. He rejoiced at their repentance and conversion.
St. John Chrysostom explains to us that the consolation that we feel for another’s change for the better is so strong that our tribulations become meaningless. Imagine loving so intensely that we are consoled at another’s repentance. This is the kind of love that Jesus commands of us: Love one another as I have loved you. Jesus’ passion and death on the cross is more extreme tribulation than we could ever endure. Yet, He willingly gave His life for us, that we may have eternal life with Him. He rejoices exceedingly when we repent of our sins and amend our lives; so much so, that His awareness of the suffering that He endured for our benefit has been extinguished by the surpassing consolation that our repentance effected. Indeed, we are called to this depth of love, and it begins with choosing the path that leads to life.
Ms. Renee Valenzuela, OP