In the second reading today, St. Paul reminds us of the importance of living in harmony. As he said to the Corinthians, “I urge you brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that there should be no divisions among you”. My dearest sisters and brothers, this message of St. Paul is important for every one of us in our divided America today.
Though we are not called to compromise our faith in the name of false unity or peace, the question is that faith and morals are not the only thing that divide us. In fact, when we look inward, it will be obvious to us that many of our divisions are coming from things that has nothing to do with Christ. It is rather being fueled by our struggle for power, prestige, wealth, pleasure and so on. Just like the Corinthians, division came from the prestige they attached to different apostles, as if the apostles were rivals like the Memphis Tigers and Old Miss Rebels.
Dearest ones, it is obvious that when the center of our lives is not Christ but creatures of various kinds, there will always be division since brothers and sisters will be seen as rivals. I often see Black Fridays on television, where early shoppers try to jam others with their carts not wanting to miss out on the so-called sales. It is important to reflect on how our consumerist culture turns human beings into instruments and enemies.
Someone sent me a quiz and asked me to ponder on it. He asks: Name the last five wealthiest people in the world, Heisman trophy winners, Miss America winners, Nobel or Pulitzer prize winners, and the Academy award winners for the best actors and actresses. While these people are bests in their fields, it is likely we have forgotten them. He gave me the second quiz, name a few teachers who aided your journey through school, three friends who helped you through a difficult time, people who made you feel appreciated and special, and so on. I was able to do that in a split second.
He said, people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials or money or awards since applause dies, awards tarnish, achievements are forgotten, and accolades and certificates are buried with their owners. It is, rather, people who show Christ’s love and care, searching for peace and harmony in bringing people together. That is what each of us today is called to do.