Grace to you!
Our reflections today, up to the next three weeks, will be based on First Corinthians. Exceptions will be Sundays and feast days.
It is fun witnessing the inauguration of new parishes. One observes the joy and jubilation of the faith community as they found their local parish. Before long, the new-found parish would begin the actual work of building their faith community, not simply architectural infrastructure, but more importantly, the building of persons and sustaining the faith life of the community. Excitements begin to fade. Real work of faith isn’t a frosting on the cake experience.
Similar things happen at the individual, personal level. You recall the time you became aware of God’s love in your life. The initial joys last for a while. Some longer than others. You were on the pinnacle of the mount of spiritual experiences where you see only the transfigured, glorified face of the Risen Lord. Like Peter, you want to remain there and not get down (Mt 17:4).
However, the Lord would want you to get down to the real world. Then will begin the actual work of faith, with its struggles and difficulties in everyday life. The old self may begin to rear its ugly head. Human frailties would surge in different ways.
It may be personal, your own weaknesses acting as “a thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7). It could also be the shocking news about some actions of some members of the faith community—church leadership or the laity—, pushing you to reexamine why you believe what you believe. It is then that your faith life will be tested. Then would be the opportunity to spiritual maturity.
The early Church of Corinth faced many challenges. They had accepted the faith preached to them by the apostle Paul during his second missionary journey in collaboration with Silas and Timothy (Acts 18:1-18). The event is said to have occurred between 50-52 AD (Navarre Bible, 2005) or 52-AD53 (MacEvilly, 1898). Another disciple, Apollos, who was renowned for his preaching eloquence, had contributed to the growth of this church after Paul left.
The Corinthian Church, those born of Christ, would also deal with human frailty. They would deal with the natural tendency to infighting, one camp against another. They would deal with cases of immorality, which was a sort of the way of life, the culture of where they lived in Corinth. Recall that before they accepted Christ, the Corinthians embraced the Roman goddess Venus, the so-called goddess of prostitution, victory, fertility and “love.” One could say their world, like ours today, was a sexually revolutionized community.
The Corinthian Church witnessed firsthand the struggles of living in a world where Christianity offered a different and higher standard of life and morality. They were not exempt from the temptations that come from where they live. Initial joys are over. The moment of building and faith maturity has come.
Paul’s letter is that of a pastor, writing to offer solutions to a problem among the sheepfold. He is problem-solving. He begins with a warm, grace and hope-filled greetings and prayer for the people (1 Cor 1:1-9). His tone is Godly and friendly. Sometimes he rebukes. Yet he speaks to them with the heart of a mother and the voice of love as one chosen by Christ himself and who makes an effort to lead Christ’s way. He speaks to them like a shepherd who wants the sheep protected from danger and saved.
His central message is to correct error as well as shed the light of the gospel on sound doctrine and the unity of the Body of Christ. It will be a praise to the Lord if we, as pastors, speak in similar tone.
As we continue on this reflection based on the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, we pray the Lord to enlighten our hearts to see the richness of being members of the Body of Christ. May we also see how important it is for us to understand the diversity of our gifts and how to work together to build the Church and the community despite the struggles we face.
Praying for the unity of the Church. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday Week 21 Ordinary Time B: 1 Cor 1:1-9; Mt 24:42-51]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.