Homily – February 23, 2014

The Christian community in Corinth was a very fractious community. This fractiousness was the reason Paul wrote his two letters to the community he founded. Some people claimed they were of Paul, other of Apollos, others of Peter whereas Paul reminded them they were all of Christ, the Christ who died for them on the cross. It was a community blessed with the many gifts of the Holy Spirit but Paul had to remind the people that these gifts were not for personal ownership they were meant for the building up, not the breaking up of the community. Paul complained about how they celebrated the Lord’s Supper; some had more than enough to eat and drink and some went hungry. Paul was shocked at the immorality in the community and the fact that they were taking one another to the civil courts to settle their disputes instead of working these issues out among themselves.

In today’s second reading we have Paul reminding the Christians of Corinth a very important fact. ‘Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God dwells in you’? If anyone destroys God’s temple God will destroy that person. God’s temple is holy and you are that temple.’ The church, the community is the place where the Spirit of God is present and active. The church doesn’t consist of bricks and mortar but of people. Corinth had no building identified as a church; the Corinthians were the church, the temple of God.

Paul tells them that those men and women who would break up the community into factions are destroying the temple of God, destroying the church and they would pay for it.

As it was then so it is now in the life of the church. We are meant to deepen the sense of community in the parish. It is to be the home of all who come here no matter what their background or origin, no matter we be rich or poor, no matter what our life style, no matter, no matter. For all our faults and failings, no matter how often we fall short of our goals, we accept each other for whom and what we are and struggle to love and support each other as Christ love and supported us.

Later on Paul will apply the same figure of the temple to the individual Christian. Each one of us is the temple of God for the Spirit of God dwells in us personally. God’s Spirit has been poured into our hearts giving us all the ability to call God Father. Paul tells us that it is personal immorality that defiles the individual Christian as God’s temple but that it is disunity and factions that defiles the whole congregation.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass may each one of us be blessed to appreciate the awesomeness and the responsibility of Paul’s teaching; ‘Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God dwells in you’? We can think of this wonder as it applies to us as individuals and as it applies to us as a community of believers.