In today’s excerpt from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he deals with a condition of the early Church that remains with us still today: divisiveness. For the Corinthians, their loyalty was divided among Paul, Apollos and Cephas and some evaded the controversy by ignoring all three and expressing their loyalty to Christ alone. Is it any different today? The designation of many of the faithful as “cafeteria Catholics” adequately describes the common mantra we hear so often. “I know the Church teaches (fill in the blank) but I believe…” It’s as if the declaration of personal attitudes with the words, “I believe,” establishes truth for one, in particular, as opposed to all in general. Truth is not determined by, “I believe.” On the contrary, Truth determines “I Believe,” or at least that’s the way it should be. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I believe the sun rises in the west?”
I wonder if St. Paul sees, and grieves, at what Christianity has become. There are so many denominations – the Catholic Church is NOT a denomination, by the way – with so many variations of “I Believe.” There is One Truth. It is Jesus Christ.
In today’s Gospel, after hearing of John the Baptist’s death, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repentance is the heart of His message, the Good News that He asks the Apostles to preach and teach so that everyone on earth might participate in His forgiveness, His Mercy and His eternal Kingdom of happiness. He called the Apostles to become “fishers of men” to lure people with the Truth and to catch them up into the net of Christ’s merciful love and life so that the Cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning but be the merciful center of His Truth.