In today's first reading Paul, in his usual direct fashion tells the people that they are spiritual infants. And what are the characteristics of this spiritual infancy? On the one hand, they claim to belong to Christ, and yet they are still ruled by their egos and focused not on what unites them but on what divides them. President Obama was recent criticized for believing in "collective salvation" and his critics were arguing that Christianity teaches a purely individual salvation.
As usual the truth is both. There is an individual aspect to salvation and a collective, "apart from the Church there is no salvation." Infants baptism, intercessory prayer, mass intentions, confession not just to God but to the priest, the requirement to attend mass on Sundays and Holy Days all point to communal nature of the Christian faith. The Church is the body of Christ and when we are baptized we are united to that body. Our individual good deeds lift up the body; our individual sins wound the body.
Maturing in faith, leaving our spiritual infancy, means moving away from the self, and toward Christ and his body the Church. If Christianity were simply Jesus and I it would be easy. Jesus is perfect. The real challenge of Christianity is that it must be lived in a community of imperfect and often annoying brothers and sisters. Paul's letters remind us that from its inception the church has faced this struggle and yet God grace has and will continue to hold it together as the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.
- Fr. Wayne