And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ and another, ‘I belong to Apollos,’ are you not merely human?” (1 Cor 3: 1-4)

The Apostle reminds me today of some of the pitfalls of spiritual infancy. This is an infantile behavior one might exhibit either when entirely new to faith, being newly-baptised, or many years after baptism, having rediscovered the faith of one’s childhood with new zeal. One might be tempted, in this phase, to “quarrel” with others within the church-community about various matters of church discipline, like fasting rules or the details of liturgical celebration. St. Paul describes this “merely human” behavior as being “of the flesh”; “quarreling” on the basis of human alliances and “human inclinations.” This reminds me of what Christ said to the Pharisees, after they criticized the Lord’s disciples for “eating with defiled hands” and not “living according to the tradition of the elders.” He says to them, “You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” (Mk 7: 5-8)

During this period of the Nativity Fast, let me proceed with caution, watching that my own fasting, according to the human tradition I embrace, be in His Spirit; in harmony with God’s will, God’s love, and God’s mercy for me and others. “A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit,” I remind myself today. “A heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise.” (Ps 50/51: 17)

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