Mon, 23 February 2009
Paul establishes both his apostolic leadership and the Church's universality in the first verse of his Second Epistle to the Corinthians. What he writes to Corinth will be read not only in that city, but also in the various churches throughout Achaia.
The second item within the epistle is a prayer of thanksgiving and an exposition of physical suffering, the comforts Christ provides, and the comfort and compassion present among Christians. Genuine Christian life is one of plentiful crosses and frequent tribulations, for these sufferings are a requisite for entrance into the Kingdom (cf. Mark 8:35, Acts 14:22, 1 Pt 5:9). Suffering conforms one to the life of Christ more than any other spiritual exercise and deepens the bonds of true fellowship within the Church.
Using testimony from his apostolic travels, he reveals the comfort of Christ in the midst of extreme trial by stating, ''For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.'' (v. 8-9). Possibly the riot in Ephesus (cf. Acts 19:24 ff.), Paul's response to the event here mentioned is instructive for every reader.
Second Corinthians is an exceedingly noteworthy epistle that is often overlooked or merely skimmed. If the spiritual implications of this letter do not challenge the Christian, it is likely he is not reading the text with any proper, prayerful depth.
Music: Gerard Satamian's Chansons sans paroles op. 2 Elegie, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com
Sat, 14 February 2009
In order to properly understand Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthian Church, one must bear in mind a number of items. Chronologically, it is likely that the Second epistle was written just months after the First. An exceedingly intriguing epistle, it showcases Paul's life and personality in a way unparalleled among his other works.
One can only imagine the rapped attention with which the Corinthian Church listened to Paul's second letter. He divides his message into three parts after a brief introduction: he covers a myriad of points in the first, the topic of collections for the widows and orphans of Jerusalem in the second, and the presence of false Apostles in the third.
Some scholars question whether or not Paul composed this epistle as a united document, or if it is a composite of two separate epistles. Their suppositions are in response to the marked differences in tone that exists between the first nine and the last four chapters, although these arguments may not be as strong as some contemporary Biblical scholarship would have one believe.
Music: Gerard Satamian's Chansons sans paroles op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com
Sat, 7 February 2009
Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians contains a number of key themes that a reader might overlook.
The fact that so few lay Catholics in America deliberately choose celibacy is a sign of a worldly church. Marriage was, is, and will always be a wonderful vocation, but many early lay Christians chose celibacy as an alternative to marriage, rather than simply a preparation for it. Too frequently the consecrated life is seen as a calling reserved for clergy and religious.
Paul exhorts the Corinthians not to associate with immoral men who claim to be Christian. He knows that Christians ought to judge the bad that is among their community (Cf. 5:13). American contemporary Catholicism is so far removed from Paul's pastoral spirit that those who seek significant reforms must be excruciatingly prudent in their judgments and actions. The duty of a Christian is to be his brother's keeper, but never a busybody.
Charismatic gifts are prevalent within Acts and First Corinthians. These gifts are always at God's disposal and proper spiritual discernment is always a requisite. One must never forget that the greatest of gifts is love.
One must not contextually dismiss Paul's views on women and sexuality as irrelevant to this age. He ever seeks to have men and women compliment one another properly and avoid unnecessary contesting of leadership. One must never forget Paul's exhortation in the Epistle to the Ephesians, ''Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ'' (5:21). It is a tragedy of our age that self-assertion is the new golden rule.
Music: Moritz Moszkowski's 4 Moments Musicaux Op. 84 - Maestoso, from the album Moments Musicaux, performed by Elizabeth Wolff. www.magnatune.com
Mon, 2 February 2009
Paul's great pastoral epistle is especially instructive for the Church in modern America.
Written to a Church often beset by infighting, immorality, and individualism, the timeless messages of forbearance, freedom from sin, and fellowship are a much-needed salve.
These final inquiries into First Corinthians revisit the issues of how bad the Corinthian Church really was, whether our time is any worse than other times in history, and the Church's current practice on women's veils.
Music: Moritz Moszkowski's 4 Moments Musicaux Op. 84 - Moderato e grazioso, from the album Moments Musicaux, performed by Elizabeth Wolff. www.magnatune.com