It has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters,
by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.
I mean that each of you is saying,
“I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,”
or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”
Is Christ divided?
Was Paul crucified for you?
Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,
and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,
so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning. (1 Cor 1:11-13,17)
It bothers me, it really bothers me, when I see “ministers” who develop a “cult of personality”. I believe you know the kind of people of whom I speak. There are ministers out there who so value themselves that they have their flock pledge themselves to their minister rather than to the Lord. There are ministers out there who exact all sorts of money from their flock to care for their own needs.
I could go on and on about the kinds of ministers who have multi-million dollar homes or complexes, who have an armada of cars and boats and planes, who value themselves over the word of God.
Their judgment, I believe, will be especially harsh since their people had trusted them to be shown the way. God is not pleased with shepherds who lead the sheep astray.
Paul, in today’s second reading, was upset, almost to the point of panic, because he heard that the people in the early Church were pledging themselves more to people — Paul, Apollos, Cephas — than to Christ. Paul knew that if people gave themselves over to a human person, they could be led astray easily. They needed to give themselves to the Lord.
Cults of personality can be lots of fun, they can provide great entertainment, they can even give us a sense of belonging. But they can be totally devoid of what we really need: a deep spirituality that strengthens our soul rather than our egos or pocketbooks.
FAITH ACTION: If you know someone who has pledged themselves to someone other than the Lord, help that person to return to God before it is too late. At the very least, pray for that person.