A simple greeting rich with meaning

Beginning Sunday (January 16), and running through February 20, the second reading each week is from First Corinthians. I shall hear the readings with a far more attentive ear this year, after studying Paul’s letters to his beloved but willful church in Corinth!

This week’s begins with the first few verses, Paul’s greeting, ending with a phrase familiar to us: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Similar words are found at the beginning of Second Corinthians, and almost all of Paul’s letters.  And the phrase is used in one of our greetings at Mass: “The grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”

According to Collegeville Commentary, “grace” was a common greeting among Greeks and “peace” among the Jews, so joining the two of them was Paul’s way of recognizing the mixed character of the church–both Jewish and Gentile Christians.

My lectors’ workbook has some further insight, keeping in mind the discord among the churches in Corinth.”When you speak this greeting, think of the power of the peace of Christ, and offer it with warmth, sincerity and reverence for the people before you. Paul’s greeting reminds the Corinthians (and us), that despite divisions on some issues, they have been called to be holy and set apart by God, to live as Christ’s disciples in unity with him.” Amen!

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