1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Psalm 32:12-15, 20-21
Paul and Apollos are Ministers assigned by the Lord to proclaim His Good News! Paul began the process of conversion in Corinth, then began again or reinforced the work of others in another place. Apollos followed to build up what Paul had started. His task was to deepen the people’s faith, to guide their growth in the mysteries and the development of their communal life, prayer, and ministry.
Paul could not go more deeply into the implications of the faith because the people were not ready. Their spiritual stomachs could not digest solid (spiritual) food. After a time, some of the people preferred Paul’s lighter fare. Others wanted Apollos’ challenge and depth. “I belong to Paul”! “I belong to Apollos”!
This still happens in the church. Some people prefer this preacher, some favor that pastor. Some choose one expression of faith and worship; some support another – even within the same faith community!
Is God’s Word different because of who the preacher is? Is God’s Word different because of the people’s perspective or preference? Of course not! Is God’s love or God’s presence different because of the way in which we personally perceive it? Of course not!
Several years ago I preached two parish missions a week apart in the same diocese. One pastor was the most conservative priest I have ever worked with. The other was one of the most progressive priests I had ever met. Each of these priests was convinced of the rightness of his perspective. Each led a parish filled with faith, service, and active community. The expression of the spirituality in the two parishes was quite different. The presence of the living Spirit of Christ was equally palpable!
We can certainly inhibit our ability to perceive or respond to God’s presence in our lives! We can equally inhibit the ability of others to perceive or respond to the presence of God in their lives. Sometimes demons seemed to speak on his behalf, but he silenced them because their motives were evil. When we damn others who are validly proclaiming Jesus’ Good News but whose perspective differs from ours, we are making the noise of the demons. Maybe Jesus will silence us!
- Fr. John M. Lee, C.P., is Retreat Director at Bishop Molloy Retreat House, “The Passionist Spiritual Center in New York City”. www.bishopmolloy.org