On Tuesday nights at the Arizona State Newman Center in Tempe, Arizona, I teach an Introduction to Theology Course to students registered at the University of Mary in Tempe. University of Mary in collaboration with Arizona State University offers courses in Catholic Theology. It’s my first time teaching a college course and it’s been quite an experience. I have throughly enjoyed it!
One of the assignments for my students this semester was to write a 2-3 page reflection on any New Testament book of their choice. The purpose of the assignment was to simply reflect on the book and apply it their life, the life of the Church or the life of the world. Out of the papers that were written, the reflection below, written by Jenna McCuin, proved to be superior –
I chose to reflect upon Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians because what he was writing to Corinth can be applied to us in today’s society. There were factions appearing in the Christian faith and people were identifying themselves with certain religious leaders, instead of with Christ Himself, and interpreting the Gospel according to their preferences and needs. In today’s society, there are numerous sects of Christianity, and all claim to be the one truth or the way. Logically, there can only be one way, with all other paths crossing in and out of the truth. If we reason it, we can see that only one church has stood since the time of Christ. This letter also addresses to today’s society and all of the relativism that is occurring. It is wonderful and refreshing to have a reminder of what true, faithful Christians believe and that we are called by God to preach the truth, not rationalize our desires to ourselves. Paul calls us to a deeper unity with one another. In chapter one, he proclaims that there shall not be any disconnect between us Christians (1 Corinthians 1:10). We all believe in the same God, and we are all His people. Division will only make it easier for the evil one to conquer us.
In order to stand firm against the world, we need to remember that we are all made by the one true God. You and me, this whole theology class, all of University of Mary-Tempe, all of Arizona, and all of the world: we are all one body in Christ. Verse twenty states, “But as it is, there are man parts, yet one body”. Verses fourteen to nineteen talk about how the foot can not say that it does not belong to the body because it is not a hand; just like the ear cannot say it does not belong to the body because it is not an eye. Each body part has a specific job. The laity cannot claim to not belong to the church because they are not priests or nuns, just like the priests cannot claim they are vital because they are not monks. How reassuring is it to know that we belong to Christ? He made us for a specific reason, and just because no body else was created for that reason does not mean we are outcasts. It means that we are unique, loved and needed more than ever, because no one else can take our place.
Another chapter that I enjoyed reading was chapter seven, which is about marriage and virginity. Paul talks about whether you should separate from someone who is an unbeliever. This spoke to me, because I know a few individuals who have gotten married to a Christian who is not Catholic or even worse, to a non-Christian. Though they did not convert from Catholicism, they also did not get married in a Catholic Church nor were they able to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage. I have always struggled with the idea of my friends marrying someone not Catholic, because I worried about their soul. Paul’s words about how the man can be made holy through his wife are very comforting to me, and it made me realize that God is in control, and He is using that marriage to bring His people closer to Him (1 Corinthians 7:14).
Lastly, my absolute favorite chapter from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is about the Last Supper. In chapter eleven, starting at verse twenty-three, Paul quotes Jesus at the Last Supper. “In memoriam” is a fancy phrase for doing something in memory of someone, and every Sunday at Mass or any day at Daily Mass we witness this beautiful miracle. Paul is reminding the Corinthians to remember what Jesus said and what the bread and wine becomes. In verses twenty-seven through thirty-one, Paul is saying that if one drinks His blood or eats His flesh without recognizing what happened in the transubstantiation, then they are bringing death and illness upon themselves. Paul is making it perfectly clear that if one eats or drinks the Eucharist unworthily, they are guilty of a sin against God.
In Corinthians, Paul recites the Last Supper and it is the earliest account of this event found in the New Testament. In one book, Paul writes magnificent reminders to the Corinthians, and to us today, of what it truly means to be a Christian. From standing up as one body of Christ, to allowing ourselves to marry a non-believer so that we may be an earthen vessel of conversion for our spouse. The story of the Last Supper never gets old, and Jesus’ command is very clear: “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24). After reflecting on Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, I realized that the problems in our culture today reflect those that Paul was addressing in Corinth. We are a lost people, and like the Corinthians, we need to read Paul’s letter and strive to better ourselves and our community.
Jenna McCuin is a student at the University of Mary-Tempe and is majoring in Catholic Theology with a minor in Catholic Studies. After receiving her degree, Jenna aspires to continue her education with a Masters in Liturgy while teaching Theology at a Catholic High School in the Diocese of Phoenix. Jenna’s passion is teaching about the faith and the individual dignity that resides in each human person. When she is not studying, Jenna is a member of the Women’s Christian Fellowship Bible study at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church. At Arizona State University, she is an active board member for the Christian Professional’s Club.