Grace to you!
We continue to explore the spiritual lessons from Saint Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians. Today we focus on chapter 3:1-9.
Saint Paul admonishes the Corinthian church in a rather strong tone. He accuses them of being fleshly: “I could not talk to you as spiritual people, but as fleshly people…” (1 Cor 3:1). He offers two reasons why he thinks they are in the flesh; namely, jealousy and the rivalry that is among them (1 Cor 3:3) and the disunity this is causing in the faith community.
I was wondering why Saint Paul connected being fleshly with the jealousy and rivalry among the believers, using as examples the division where they are divided among camps. Some were saying they belong to Paul, others claimed they belong to Apollos (1 Cor 3: 4). Later on, in verses 18-22, as we shall share tomorrow, Saint Paul relates these to lack of wisdom.
St. Paul speaks to us of the need to see each member of the Church, no matter their unique charisms and contributions in the building of the faith, as part of the pieces of the puzzle set in place by God who is the owner of the Church. Any believer, whether the ordained or the laity, the preacher or the volunteer who cleans the church, is “God’s fellow worker.”
As believers, we are in one team, the team of the Lord. Every member of the team is equally important and significant. This relates to Saint Paul’s teaching on the imagery of the Church as the body of Christ, where every part is as important as the other (1 Cor 12:12-27).
In other words, in the Pauline way of spirituality, jealousy is a sign of living in the flesh, just as unhealthy rivalry and division resulting to pitching one camp against another based on their different gifts. We know that there are different gifts and talents with which the Lord has blessed the world, and the church. Those gifts and talents are not to be a source of rivalry. They are to be a source of joy for the community.
It would be wonderful to see the one with the grace of preaching as part of the pieces of the divine puzzle just as the one with the charisms of healing or seeing visions or administration or knowledge. We are all in this together. We deserve nothing more than anyone one else. It’s all from the Lord and to God belongs the glory.
For those who plant the seed such as Saint Paul did in Corinth and those who continue the work of faith deepening in catechesis and liturgical life, just as Apollos did in the Corinthian church, it’s all part of working in the same house of God. It is wisdom to see things in this perspective.
Praying that God will give us the wisdom to see things in the right order. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Wednesday Week 22 Ordinary Time: 1 Cor 3:1-9; Lk 4:38-44]
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.