Apparently there is some suspicion that a Roman ship from classical times lies sunken in the harbor of Rio de Janeiro. This, if true, would strongly suggest that the port was discovered by Romans at an early age, rather than by a certain Portuguese Catholic nobleman named Cabral.
Such is abhorrent to the Brazilian people. So they cover it up.
Image by tswedensky
By Steve Hall
Our first reading for today is taken from Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Corinth, a seaport city marked by a measure of depravity not unusual for a place whose primary commercial strength was in sea transportation. Paul was in Ephesus when he heard the disquieting news that the community in Corinth was displaying open factionalism.
Some were interpreting Christian teaching as a superior ‘wisdom’ for the ‘initiated’ few [an early form of Gnosticism]. Others were engaged in a variety of unseemly conduct, most of which was diametrically opposed to their Christian beliefs. Others were giving inappropriate significance to the gifts of the Spirit over works of mercy and charity. Still others were arguing about matters of conscience such as eating meat sacrificed to idols or even disputing the general bodily resurrection.
We would be pretentious to claim that our Christianity is more mature than theirs. Lest I get drawn into politics, let me cite an example from our neighbors to the South. Apparently there is some suspicion that a Roman ship from classical times lies sunken in the harbor of Rio de Janeiro. This, if true, would strongly suggest that the port was discovered by Romans at an early age, rather than by a certain Portuguese Catholic nobleman named Cabral.
Such is abhorrent to the Brazilian people. As a Catholic nation known for its pious faith, the idea that the country was not discovered by Cabral — a Catholic nobleman — is considered blasphemous. Consequently, the government of Brazil has forbidden all under-water investigation within its territorial waters.
Now you may ask for the relevance of my example and I would direct you to the words of Paul from an earlier portion of Corinthians
“When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”( I Corinthians 2:1-2)
“We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.” (I Corinthians 1:23)
Granted that our faith has consequences; but I don’t believe such consequences extended to protecting (right or wrong) the credit given to a particular person for a particular achievement. The Gospel is never opposed to truth. In a society such as our own, where religious positions are (at least for the moment) protected, there are reasons to examine our teaching and our public behavior even as regards certain moral issues. It is easy to pull our faith into matters such as the problems with the environment, the appropriate response to the homeless, immigration, homosexuality, and abortion.
Yet, as Paul reminds us, our faith is about knowing Christ and him crucified. To use the “Good News” of the Gospel to justify our own concerns and biases is an open door to potential desecration.
The core is critical. The foundation is fundamental. The Psalmist reminds us that, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)
He is speaking of both foundation and enduring guidance. It does not bode well for us to begin with foundational faith and then turn to our own plan in living that faith. I might just as well direct the workers to follow the architect when preparing my home’s foundation and then to follow my own direction in building the structure.
Our foundation is clear: Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Our execution of the structural plan requires more than personal preference or private interpretation. Let’s not repeat the errors of the Corinthians.