A certain priest quietly gives back half of his salary to his financially strapped parish. He faithfully proclaims the gospel, but because he is not a gifted speaker, many find the liturgies boring and leave his parish. Eventually, he is succeeded by a pastor who is eloquent in speech and creative in his liturgies. This pastor does not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist or the virgin birth of Jesus, and freely passes on these thoughts and other falsehoods to his congregation. Because of his dynamic style, the parish flourishes, accepts his teaching, and doesn't mind subsidizing his lavish expenditures.
This hypothetical story bears some resemblance to Paul's situation in Corinth. Like Americans today, the Corinthians were quick to be seduced by a pleasing presentation (2 Cor 11:4). Personal integrity, fidelity, and truth took a back seat to style, image, and stage-presence. Because the Corinthians were puffed-up with pride (1 Cor 4:18), they liked teachers who tickled their ears (see 2 Tm 4:3).
We who have a "sincere and complete devotion to Christ" can also be corrupted and fall away (2 Cor 11:3). We must put to death our fleshly desires for enticements and empty show (1 Jn 2:16), and seek only Jesus the Truth (Jn 14:6). What influences you the most — the message or the messenger? "What are you looking for?" (Jn 1:38) Live in God's word (Jn 8:31). "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (Jn 8:32).
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Imprimatur ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from June 1, 2007 through July 31, 2007.
†Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 22, 2007.