Today’s first reading (1 COR 7:25-31) can be difficult if we forget to contextualize it. In St. Paul’s era, when he says: So this is what I think because of the present distress, historians and exegetes tell us that he was talking about famine. That could certainly be the opening line in a text for today because of all the starving people in our world, but then Paul launches into a series of advisory comments on states of life (marriage vs. singleness) that can cause a measure of distress for some of us. He wraps his statements in a final assertion that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he [she] is. For the world in its present form is passing away. Again, I think his intuition of things could be applied to today when we look at the state of the world and the news of every day but I wanted something that would help me to be a little more comfortable with his words.
I found some assistance in a commentary from Bible.org where the author (who was not named) spoke first about always wanting in his youth to be a professional basketball player, thinking he would grow taller as he aged, but he never did. He also thought it would be good to be married but that never happened either. He commented on the advantages he had because of his single state in life. He then contextualizes Paul’s statements. He says that this world is passing away comes from a Greek expression meaning: this world is but a shadow of reality and speaks to each of the verses regarding marriage, afflictions, pleasure, etc. and says, in summary, about “all earthly concerns” (7:31a): Use the world, enjoy the world, work in the world, buy and sell in the world, but do not let the world rule your life. …Enjoy your life, live it to the fullest, take advantage of every moment, but don’t indulge yourself so much that you lose your focus on what really matters.
May we all find balance and satisfaction in where we are and who we are in this world and look forward to what might be waiting for us in the next.