The real competition is for souls
I have read and heard St. Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians numerous times. I speak of the passage referring to the “super Apostles.” But had always assumed that St. Paul referred to some of the original twelve, (Including Mathias.) After listening to Fr. Alphonse Van Guilder’s homily for Thursday of this past week, however, I realized that St. Paul was not referring to Peter, James, Andrew or any of the original disciples.
Instead, the Super Apostles that Paul spoke of were those who changed Christ’s message to suit their own agendas.
…But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning,
your thoughts may be corrupted
from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ. For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached,
or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received
or a different gospel from the one you accepted,
you put up with it well enough.
For I think that I am not in any way inferior to these “superapostles.”
Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so in knowledge;
in every way we have made this plain to you in all things…St Paul: Letter to the Corinthians
We need only to open our eyes to see public figures, secular and relgious alike, unapologetically changing God’s Law, His Commandments and His Gospel. Religious controvesies of a stunning variety are playing out among local, national and worldwide politics and throughout all churches and their hierarchies. We tend to assume that these heresies are new and more heinous. St Paul reminds us that there is nothing new to ostensible religious leaders shaping Christ to fit into their predesigned mold.
I find that fact perversely consoling. Saul’s upbringing inTarsus, the Manhattan of the ancient world, exposed him to a wide variety of pagan practices. He knew the depths to which any of us can fall- Baal was adored, often through the blood of infants. Just like today although we have changed his name.
Fr. Alphonse expanded on the notion of super apostles with his statement that “the real competition is for souls.” In our marketing saturated world, politically correct world, we . Or at its worst, iust money, power and branding.
But no, the bottom line is that everything we do, or don’t do, each choice made, even the most trivial, has eternal consequence.
What do we fill up our minds and hearts with?
Is there anything- or Anyone- we are willing to die for?
Thinking about all of this brings back another homily by another priest. About the Hallmark Card lyricist, Jessican Powers…a Carmelite nun. Yes, you read it right, the Hallmark Card lyricist was a Carmelite nun.
Child, have none told you? God is in your Soul!
Probably not these exquisite mystical poems like these last two stanzas of the Garments of God.
He is clothed in the robes of His mercy, voluminous garments
not velvet or silk and affable to the touch,
but fabric strong for a frantic hand to clutch,
and I hold to it fast with the fingers of my will.
Here is my cry of faith, my deep avowal
to the Divinity that I am dust.
Here is the loud profession of my trust.
I will not go abroad
to the hills of speech or the hinterlands of music
a crier to walk in my soul where all is still.
I have this potent prayer through good or ill:
here in the dark I clutch the garments of God