Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Don’t Get Distracted

By Colleen O’Sullivan
While there is jealousy and rivalry among you, are you not of the flesh, and walking according to the manner of man?  Whenever someone says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely men?  What is Apollos, after all, and what is Paul?  Ministers through whom you became believers, just as the Lord assigned each one.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.  Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth.  (I Corinthians 3:3b-7)
At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.   (Luke 4:42a)
O Lord, you are the center of my life; I will always praise you,
I will always serve you, I will always keep you in my sight.
(From “Center of My Life” by Paul Inwood)

Sometimes I think the old saying is true: the more things change, the more they remain the same.  The trappings of life are certainly different in 21st century Northern Virginia from what they were in first century Corinth, but have we Christians actually changed that much over the years?

The apostle Paul was addressing a specific situation in today’s reading from his first letter to the Corinthians.  He was the one who founded the church in Corinth.  When he had to leave, Apollos was the one who remained to nurture and grow the faith there.   Now Paul sees that the Corinthians are embroiled in all kinds of rivalries, some claiming to follow him and some Apollos.  They haven’t grown in their faith because they’ve gone off on tangents and forgotten about the only one who can really help them to mature - God.   

If St. Paul were to write us a letter today, he wouldn’t have to start from scratch.  He could just use some of what he wrote to the Corinthians.  Oh, the circumstances would be different, but the bit about getting ourselves so entangled in non-essentials that we forget about God and why we’re the church in the first place still holds true.  

In the Gospel reading, Jesus heals Simon’s mother-in-law of a fever and then spends the entire night healing the sick of the town.  But lest he forget the most important thing, when the sun begins to rise, Jesus goes off to a deserted place to pray, to reconnect with his Father, to reaffirm the path his ministry should take, to make sure he isn’t going off on a tangent. So, when the crowds try to prevent him from leaving, he doesn’t let them pull him off track; he knows that going elsewhere to preach the Good News is exactly what he is supposed to do.

The Corinthians bickered over which spiritual leader was theirs.  We nitpick over a whole host of other things - styles of worship, types of music, whether we should have bells during Mass, etc.  You can fill in the blank with whatever it is that gets you going.   But ask yourself, do I let these concerns so consume me that God and the reason for being the Church get left by the wayside?

When you feel like you’re losing your focus, pray, because there is really nothing like prayer to keep us centered in God.  

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