I Corinthians 3:1-9: Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ.
Carnal means “sense ruled.” The carnally minded man is a Christian who has not yet come to the place where the Word rules him and governs his thinking. He is called a babe in Christ. He is ruled by the flesh, by what he sees with his eyes, what he feels, hears, tastes, and smells. He is a body-ruled, sense governed child of God.
Sacrilege here is the sundering of sin, whether it be the sacrilege against the community, or sacrilege against one's body. The common factor in both cases is failure to recognize that God is the only lord of the church and of the redeemed man. The roots of "envying and strife" are in personal ambitions and loyalties rather than in a surrender to God's Kingship.
Although the first Christians were excited by the new life to which they had been called, they did not always understand the teaching of Jesus and how to put that teaching into practice. Opposition from Jewish leaders and disagreements within the group were common. Communities regularly needed to be called to greater generosity, hospitality and humility. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul pointed out a particular problem he thought was ridiculous: divisions were emerging between the fan clubs of Paul and Apollos! Paul explained that in the grand scheme of things he and Apollos amounted to nothing; only God was worthy of their loyalty.
We face many of the same challenges today. Although we benefit from the insights and traditions of the generations that preceded us, we need to continue to pray and reflect on how to best live lives of faith in our own place and time. We need to be reminded often of Jesus’ invitation to share our resources with those in need and to welcome into our communities those who are very different from ourselves.
And, on occasion, our loyalties to particular messengers of the Gospel can cause us to lose sight of the message itself and create needless divisions. Those of us who proclaim the Gospel should try to do so as faithfully as we can and not worry about our own popularity. Those who listen to the proclamation will inevitably find one teacher or preacher more helpful than another, but we should avoid forming fan clubs and closing ourselves off to other ministers of the Gospel. As St. Paul reminds us, the Kingdom is God’s field; we are merely the workers. --Fr Dan Daly S.J (Aleteia) 08.31.16
Paul understood that leaders are servants. He’s saying that you can’t put too much stock in a leader’s ultimate significance because they are just workers on God’s team! And because of that, the health and growth of a group (in Corinth’s case a whole church) did not depend on the leaders. It depended on God. God is the one who grows a church or small group. It’s not personality or knowledge or curriculum or charisma or baked goods (and I’m all for baked goods) that nurture and grow a small group. It’s God. --James Pruch