Father Michael's Number Six Rule for the Interior Life: Don't Be a Lone Ranger.
Lessons from cycle II of the feria, according to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite:
I Corinthians 4: 6-15.
Psalm 145: 17-21.
Luke 6: 1-5.
The Twenty-Second Saturday of Ordinary Time.
The First Saturday of the Month
A Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
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9:08 AM 9/6/2014 — We have a busy day ahead of us here at the Shrine; so, as I indicated to you yesterday, there will be no Holy Hour after Mass here in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel; but, there is adoration included in the celebration upstairs today following the Mass at 1:00, so please don't hesitate to join us for that if your schedule allows.
As I mentioned very briefly yesterday, St. Paul has been addressing, in our Apostolic lesson, the divisions which threatened the unity of the Church in Corinth. His friend Apollos, whom he left in charge before he left there, was a very different man than he was. Paul was an educated man, to be sure, but not high born; thus, the style of his preaching appealed more to the lower classes where he made most of his converts, but he had a hard time reaching the wealthier Jewish merchants; Apollos, by contrast, was himself a rather well-to-do Jew from Alexandria, perfectly fluent in Greek, and who knew how to reach these people and brought many of them into the faith. But because they were so different, it was very easy for the Corinthian Christians to make the mistake of thinking that they were rivals preaching different Gospels, which they weren't. On Wednesday, Paul gave us the very beautiful metaphor of him planting the seed and Apollos watering it to show how the two actually compliment one another; but, as is often the case with the simple-minded, they hear the same truth expressed in different ways and assume that they're hearing two different truths. Paul and Apollos have no dispute with one another, but it's those who hear them who have regarded their styles more than their words, and divided themselves into two different groups.
Take, as an example, the situation here: Father Paul and I are two different people; he has one style of preaching and I have another; his preaching appeals to one particular kind of person with a particular kind of background, and mine appeals to another kind of person; but to presume that we're preaching two different messages would only be because someone wasn't listening to what was being said. I think it's safe to assume—and I hinted at this before—that Paul appointed Apollos to succeed him in Corinth because he knew that Apollos could reach those people that he simply couldn't. But, in Corinth apparently, you had some people who were not that smart, and who couldn't distinguish between style and content; so, Paul is writing here with a two-fold purpose: he's scolding his own so-called supporters and coming to the defense of his friend, Apollos, and scolding Apollos' so-called supporters in his own defense, and quotes to them what Msgr. Knox says was probably an old Jewish proverb: “Nothing beyond what is written” (I Cor. 4: 6). In other words, don't read the Scriptures between the lines looking for some cabollistic and cryptic meaning that isn't there; take it at face value, because it probably means exactly what it seems to mean. The words of Paul and Apollos, though very different in style and intended for very different audiences, presented the same Gospel, and it's that Gospel the Corinthians should be following, not this man or that.
And as I mentioned to you yesterday, this section of Paul's letter, beginning with Chapter Four, thus elevates the discussion; for, up to this point, the Apostle had been speaking about these things purely on a personal level and how it effected each Christian as an individual; now it becomes an ecclesiastical matter, since it's the unity of the Church that's being threatened. Speaking of both Apollos and himself, he points out that even the Apostle is nothing more than a servant of the Church; the message he preaches is not his own, it's Christ's, and Christ entrusted his Gospel to the Church, not to this man or that. The true Apostle always scrutinizes his own words against the teaching of the Church, and is constantly mindful of the fact that he is nothing more than a mouthpiece; he has no message of his own.
And this brings us to Father Michael's Number Six Rule for the Interior Life: don't be a lone ranger. Everything we do should be according to the mind of the Church; and, if what we're doing deviates in some way from what the Church teaches or preaches, then we must have the humility to admit that there's something wrong with what we're doing. The Church doesn't need trailblazers; what she needs are faithful Apostles.