Ancient Corinth was a bustling merchant city with a mixture of cultures from all over the ancient world. Lively and decadent, its description reminds me of the big apple.This is the community where the church of Corinth resided, and the church that Paul wrote to in 2 Corinthians. It was an infant church, struggling in a liberal society, and either fighting or being consumed by that decadent society. Its teachers also were varied, many with questionable credentials and questionable teachings. If that community was in its infancy, Christianity was not much older. This infant church at Corinth was Paul’s Challenge, to develop in it the true faith and doctrine of Jesus Christ against what must have seemed to be insurmountable odds. In doing so Paul had to get those people to distinguish themselves from their surrounding, he had to give them the encouragement that Jesus Christ had given him. He had to prepare them to receive the same Holy Spirit that the apostles received in the upper room on Pentecost. He had to form them into a Church of Jesus Christ, and that required making them distinct from the hustle and bustle of that pagan city. They could not simply blend in with their surroundings, they needed to be identifiable as Christians. When Jesus calls his disciples the salt of the earth, they are distinct and serve a distinct purpose, they are Christians as distinct from pagans as salty is to bitter.
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
That’s an interesting thought in todays society when we are expected to harmonize and reach a consensus. Ours is a society of relativism and secularization. I wonder how different a big American city is from ancient Corinth, not in its architecture or technology, but in the range of their cultures. In ancient Corinth one of the problems that Paul faced was that the church at Corinth’s members had become too much like Corinthians, they did not fully yet define themselves as Christian. I wonder if that might be the problem of so many modern Christians in places like NYC, like the ancient Corinthians do they also fear becoming too identifiable as Christians? Are we trying to become too blended, and to relative,and too secular? Are we still worth our salt, or have modern Christians begun to lose their flavor? I think of that saltiness in the political arena, and the liturgical one too, and also the personal one. In the political, are political choices made on the foundation of Christian beliefs? On the liturgical, where have the sacramental, and devotions, and processions gone? On the personal, do we follow our faith or simply alternate between what is Catholic, and what is permissible in our society; the two are distinct.Are we still worth our salt, or have modern Christians begun to lose their flavor?