Monday, July 05, 2004

Sighing over faction fighters again?

Well, they've been with us forever. Only one generation into Christianity, St. Clement of Rome, who was the third or fourth pope (I don't have my chart in front of me) had to send an apostolic letter to the Church in Corinth, because they had tied their church up in a tangle of faction fighting _again_.

The same thing that it was so important for Pope Clement to teach the fractious Church in Corinth is equally important for us to learn in the fractious Church in the United States of America.

from today's Office of Readings, Epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians:

Why are there strife and passion, schisms and even war among you? Do we not possess the same Spirit of grace which was given to us and the same calling in Christ? Why do we tear apart and divide the body of Christ? Why do we revolt against our own body? Why do we reach such a degree of insanity that we forget that we are members of one another? Do not forget the words of Jesus our Lord: Woe to that man; it would be better for him if he had not been born rather than scandalise one of my chosen ones. Indeed it would be better for him to have a great millstone round his neck and to be drowned in the sea than that he lead astray one of my chosen ones. Your division has led many astray, has made many doubt, has made many despair, and has brought grief upon us all. And still your rebellion continues.

Pick up the letter of blessed Paul the apostle. What did he write to you at the beginning of his ministry? Even then you had developed factions. So Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote to you concerning himself and Cephas and Apollos. But that division involved you in less sin because you were supporting apostles of high reputation and a person approved by them.

We should put an end to this division immediately. Let us fall down before our master and implore his mercy with our tears. Then he will be reconciled to us and restore us to the practice of brotherly love that befits us. For this is the gate of justice that leads to life, as it is written:
Open to me the gates of justice. When I have entered there, I shall praise the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the just shall enter through it. There are many gates which stand open, but the gate of justice is the gateway of Christ. All who enter through this gate are blessed, pursuing their way in holiness and justice, performing all their tasks without discord. A person may be faithful; he may have the power to utter hidden mysteries; he may be discriminating in the evaluation of what is said and pure in his actions. But the greater he seems to be, the more humbly he ought to act, and the more zealous he should be for the common good rather than his own interest.
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