Faith life too dry? Been feeling worn out, brittle and brown? We need a “Chloe” in our lives. The name means “a young, green, growing shoot.”
St. Paul learns that there are divisions in the Corinthian Church. He learns about the strife from “Chloe’s people.” The Biblical scholar Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor claims that Chloe is a Gentile Christian woman who runs a business with employees or slaves. She is probably bothered by the fact that triumphalism is smothering the Christian Church. Triumphalism looks like this- “I am better than you. I am an ordained Catholic priest, a Benedictine Monk, a Doctor of Ministry and Ministerial Fellow from two elite Ivy League schools. I can do some word research in Greek and Latin. I met Blessed John Paul II personally in his papal apartments. I am better and higher than you in the Church.” According to St. Paul, this type of thinking and acting empties the cross of Christ of meaning.
According to Pope Francis in a homily during Mass with Vatican employees: “The triumphalism of the church stops the church.” It becomes a church that journeys only halfway to its goal of salvation because people become satisfied with everything being “well organized — all the offices, everything in its place, everything beautiful, efficient.” Too many times, “we are faith-checkers instead of facilitators of the people’s faith.”
Jesus does not call Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him to check on people’s faith. Nor does he call the apostles to lord it over others. “Come after me,” Jesus says, “and I will make you fishers of [men and women].” Even though I hate fishing, the metaphor is superb. People who fish recreationally or commercially need to be patient, hard working, tough and committed. In the words of an early church writer- Jesus chooses his apostles “not for who they are but because of what they can become.”
That is why you and I need a “Chloe” in our lives when the sin of triumphalism creeps into our lives. This is triumphalism today: I have more Latin. I have more music. I follow the right mass. I kneel for communion. I work for the poor. I pray the rosary. I wear the habit. Now, all of these things are good if I want to use them as aids to my faith. But when I use them to lord it over you, then I empty the cross of Christ of its meaning. Triumphalism is not Christian. It destroys the essence of discipleship. Our Church begins with simple people who give their lives to keep the light of Christ alive in the world. We need a Chloe and Chloe’s people to keep us honest and to pull us back to the Gospel of Christ.
Here at the Eucharist may we all become Chloe’s people. May we become young, green, growing shoots so that the Body of Christ radiates God’s Light to the world.
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.