Paul Struggles with His Congregation

The Pastoral Message of the Letters to the Corinthians

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Commenting on the pastoral questions taken up by Saint Paul in his letters to the Corinthians, Hans Urs von Balthasar offers a meditative interpretation of Paul's writings and difficulties with the Christians at Corinth. He discusses the different roles of pastors and believers, and we see how the problems are resolved through Paul's advice, example and prayerful patience.

"The questions people ask God and the Church change; God's answer in Christ is sufficient for all time. Even though the Church, as well as the individual priest, always has to make this answer understandable anew, its essence does not change. Paul's dramatic confrontation with the congregation of Corinth provides both: his words and actions do complete justice to the situation and yet they are timeless. Therefore his pastoral directives to this difficult congregation are still a guideline for everyone holding a pastoral office. The eye-to-eye confrontation with Corinth is so intense and so rich, that it includes virtually everything of importance. Paul emphasized that everything he says is spoken in love and because of love, but he must get rid of 'the old leaven' so that the Christian feast can be celebrated with joy. Joy has an amazing preeminence in all of Paul's letters."
— Hans Urs von Balthasar

Fr. Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905–1988) was a Swiss theologian widely regarded as one of the greatest theologians and spiritual writers of modern times. Named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II, he died shortly before being formally inducted into the College of Cardinals. He wrote over one hundred books, including PrayerHeart of the WorldMary for TodayLove Alone Is CredibleMysterium Paschale and his major multi-volume theological works: The Glory of the LordTheo-Drama and Theo-Logic.

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