Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
(I Corinthians 3:1-9; Luke 4:38-44)
Although the Catholic Church claims to be one, a telling fissure appears on its surface. Liberal and conservative Catholics criticize each other continuously. Liberals believe that the Church must change if its teaching is to maintain credibility. They see, for example, a married clergy as not only desirable but critical. Conservatives believe that most changes betray the tradition handed over through the centuries. They even frown on the revived customs of taking Holy Communion in the hand and from the chalice. St. Paul provides a needed corrective of both sides in today’s first reading.
Paul calls the Corinthians “fleshly people” for creating divisions among themselves. “Fleshly” appears to be the same quality as “natural” in yesterday’s passage. It refers to living according to the animal desires of dominance and sensuality. Even though they have been baptized into Christ, Paul sees them as no more Christ-like than ruthless warriors. He urges the Corinthians to transcend their differences by seeing God as their all-encompassing life-force. His compassion for all must be emulated.
We do well to follow Paul’s recommendations. Of course, we are to pursue truth by making strong arguments for what we believe. But even truth does not allow us to denigrate those who take different positions. Most always there will be something to note with approval. In this way that fissure threatening Church unity will soon disappear.