Rev. Fr. Joseph Koterski, SJ
Reading the First Letter to the Corithians
Perhaps the dissension that Paul is addressing in this letter arose from a lack of clarity about the message of Christ as a whole. It is not uncommon for individuals to latch on to one or another part of a story without knowing the whole, and even to get passionate about their own positions.
In this letter the particular aspect of the mystery of Christ that Paul has chosen to emphasize becomes all the more important: Christ crucified shows us the incarnate Wisdom of God. For Paul, it is essential for believers to find their unity in Christ. It is not that Paul wants unity at all costs, for instance, by means of some least common denominator that might generate a tolerant pluralism that would allow competing wisdoms to flourish. Rather, he is insistent on a difficult but crucial point, even if it seems foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling-block to the Jews: that Christ crucified shows forth the power of God and the wisdom of God. What human minds might see as folly or as weakness proves wiser than any human wisdom and stronger than any human strength (1:22-25).