“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 12:13

Thursday, 27 May 2021

1 Corinthians 12:3-13 

If we accept that Pentecost is the ‘birthday’ of the Church, that through the Holy Spirit, the Church is the Risen Christ in the world, we should be deeply distressed by the disunity we see in the Christian community today: denominationalism, factionalism, ‘culture wars’ and other pathologies. I think Paul’s observations warn us against any such ideological divisions and point-scoring among Christians.

Paul also suggests a way out of this mess. We need to ask ourselves: who are the ‘Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons’ in the Church today? On a basic level, they are the many different people who are a part of the church – of all races, social classes, genders and states of life, indeed all the different groups that call themselves Christian. Paul’s vision of inclusiveness that he spells out to the church in 1st century Corinth should be the default position for us all. No one should be excluded. All who love God and seek the good are welcome.

I want to take this a step further. If we accept the idea that God’s Spirit fills the whole world, we need a similar sense of openness to people of other faiths or none. They, too, are in God, no matter how they experience (or don’t experience) God. Naturally, just as we should accept the diverse ways Christians experience and worship Christ, we should respect non-Christians’ ways of understanding the Mystery at the heart of the human condition. As with other Christians, we need to find what we all hold together in common.

Do I welcome other Christians? Do I welcome non-Christians? How might I do this – or do it better? 

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. And kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we will be courageous, so that you can renew the face of the earth.


Fr Anthony Egan SJ

Fr Anthony Egan SJ (born Cape Town 1966; entered the Jesuits 1990; ordained 2002) has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for spotlight.africa. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.

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