1 Corinthians 4:6b-15
Paul warns the Corinthians not to "go beyond what was written." Sounds like a teacher instructing her young students not to color outside the lines. Some might say this stifles creativity. Others would say it helps the students to concentrate, focus, and work with boundaries. Yes, too many boundaries crush the spirit. On the other side of the coin, the absence of boundaries leads to chaos.
The Corinthians have been given the Gospel message (what was written) by Paul. Now they are
listening to other preachers, some of whom are leading the community away from the truth. Paul
warms then to stay inside the lines of the Gospel message. With irony Paul points out how they
see themselves as satisfied, rich, and kingly. They have become arrogant. Rather, Paul insists,
they should be like him and the other apostles: fools on Christ’s account, weak, and in disrepute.
If they are to boast, they should boast in Christ, not in themselves. Whatever good they possess
comes from God, not from their own resources. Paul attempts to lead them to humility, a
cornerstone for anyone who seeks to build a Christian life.
Sometimes it’s good to color outside the lines. The Pharisees had strict boundaries on how to
observe the Sabbath. They criticize the disciples of Jesus for working to obtain food to eat on the
Sabbath. Jesus reminds the Pharisees that compassion is always in demand, even on the Sabbath.
Jesus allows and promotes good conduct, even on the Sabbath; the Pharisees, on the other hand
promote a judgmental spirit that is harmful to human dignity. God puts a high priority on how we
treat others and how needs are met.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P. is the Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and lives in Chicago, Illinois.