A Weakening of Charity

Those first century Corinthians must have been something else. Two letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to them are preserved in the Christian Bible. In one of the most famous passages in the entire Bible (chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians), Paul defines charity (love) for them. Evidently they didn’t have a clue.

Pope Benedict XVI in a series of talks on the Church Fathers talks of the third Bishop of Rome, Clement, writing to the Corinthians toward the end of the first century (maybe 30 years after Paul?), observes that if there were abuses in Corinth, the reason should be sought in the weakening of charity and other indispensible Christian virtues.

Someone must have thought, “Why did anyone ever stop in Corinth and start a church there? They’ve been nothing but trouble.”

If we look honestly at ourselves today, what would we observe?

Would the leaders who founded our congregation wonder why they bothered with such a divisive and stubborn people?

Would a church leader observe that problems within us are due to the weakening of charity?

Would we even consider that an indictment? I do know people whose attitude toward charity does not extend beyond themselves.

Many people observe Lent at this time of year by giving up something, making a sacrifice, turning their attitudes toward God and our need for grace. Maybe we could be in prayer and contemplation about whether we ourselves and our congregations are weakening in charity–and do something about it.

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