It is natural for us to prefer one kind of Christianity to others, but as Christians we must honor those whose views are the opposite of ours.

Wednesday, 9/5/12

In the first reading Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth who had split into factions. One group had remained loyal to Paul who had brought them into the Faith. The other group had become disciples of Apollos, a learned philosopher from Alexandria who came to Corinth a year after Paul had moved on.

Paul directed the people’s loyalty away from both Apollos and himself. He urged the people to direct their loyalty to God. He quite famously said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God cause the growth.”

None the less, it is perfectly human and natural for us to prefer one man over another. Let me relate an experience with such preferences from when I was taking university courses in 1970.  I was saying my Masses at a large parish that had four priests assigned to it. There was Monsignor Sullivan, Monsignor Meyer, Father Huhn, and Father Cooney.  

At our big parish picnic I was chatting with people at fifteen or twenty tables, and the topic of our Sunday sermons kept coming up, always taking surprising twists. At one table an old fellow said,  “Monsignor Sullivan’s sermons are too long, but he talks from the heart, and he reaches my heart.” At another table I heard, “When Monsignor Meyer says either get on the bus or get off the bus he don’t leave any gray area.” Father Huhn’s fans were comfortable with his bringing everything back to the Baltimore Catechism. Father Cooney’s people liked what he said about preaching; “I begin by thinking myself smart, I pray myself hot, an then I let fly.”

What I am saying is that it is natural and right for us to prefer a teachers or priest who functions on the same wave length as ourselves. Still, we must see our differing tastes as a true test of our Christianity. The Spirit’s gift of Understanding should equip us to give the benefit of the doubt to all who differ from us. We must convince ourselves that those people we differ with are doing and saying what seems right to them. We must honor their views, even though they are quite the opposite of ours.

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