Friday, March 20, 2009 – Corinthians – IdolatryWhen reading the two letters written by Paul to the Christian community in Corinth, we see what a tremendous challenge lay before this group in order that they not only remain in unity with one another but also in accord with their surroundings. Corinth was an important city located on the isthmus between the Aegean and he Adriatic seas; and because it was the capital of the province, this city of several hundred thousand offered a variety of cultural, social, commercial and political possibilities. There was a Roman vice-consul present; theatres, temples and businesses created a cosmopolitan environment of intercultural significance. Some historians refer to it as The Las Vegasof Paul’s world. For this reason, the two letters written to the members of this burgeoning Christian community have meaning for us today: Paul worried that when he was no longer present to this fledgling community, it might slip away from Christ to fall back into the familiar and long-held pagan rituals and worship of false gods. We too, run the risk of succumbing to the empty promises the world around us presents. For some insight into what Paul met when he arrived in Corinth, you may want to follow these links.
From today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer reflection: Few of us are guilty of out-and-out idolatry. Many of us are guilty of allowing our decisions to be governed by many powers other than the one true God: desire for approval, addiction to work or other escapes from reality, for gain, need for control. So powerful can these dictators become that we no longer recognize the voice of God, who speaks a different language than they do.
This is what we find ourselves up against so many times – the social, financial, political and psychological forces that present an alluring argument for abandoning God . . . or at least for cutting corners when it comes to our devotion to God. There are many demands on our time and self, many voices that can drown the one true voice that never steers us wrong. This was also the world of the Corinthians to whom Paul writes.
When there is time, we learn a good deal about ourselves when we sit with these letters, imagining that they are written to our neighbors and ourselves. In Acts Chapter 18 we can read Luke’s account of Paul’s time on Corinth and we will see that it is in this difficult environment that he finally turns from the Jewish people to the Gentiles. It is in the house of Titus Justus next to the synagogue that he preaches the good news of freedom to eager Corinthian ears. We are told that a synagogue official, Crispus, and his entire household come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. It is in Corinth that God speaks to Paul in a vision and says the words we long to hear so often: Do not be afraid. Go on speaking and do not be silent for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city.
God has many people in our cities, in our towns, in our communities, on our street. We cannot be afraid to speak when the voice within calls us forth. We need this reminder often and when we read these letters we hear a constant message: We are saved, we must speak and witness, we are protected, we are loved. We need not fear.
What false God can bring us this assurance and keep these kinds of promises? None that we see around us other than the one true God who appears in surprising ways at surprising times.
What must we do to remain faithful to this one true God? We must find him in the quiet of our hearts and bring him forth into the hurly burly activity of daily life for ourselves and others to see in plain sight. This is how we withstand false gods. We witness. We speak. We take our fears to God.
Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.20 (2009). Print.
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