(Wednesday, June 28)

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, …that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor 1:10-13)

As we approach the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, celebrated tomorrow on the New Calendar, I’m reflecting on the above-quoted passage. St. Paul pleads with us, not to create identities for ourselves, other than the one we receive in Holy Baptism, when we are clothed in the “new garment” who is Christ Himself: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal 3:27)

But in our time, when already for over a millennium we as Christians have identified with our bishop, be he the successor of “Cephas” (Peter), or of Paul or Andrew or Mark or another Apostle, we might think, *that ship has sailed*. Even within *one* Orthodox Church, we identify either as being “of Kirill,” “of Onuphrius,” “of Bartholomew,” “of Epiphanius,” or of someone else’s jurisdiction, and “there are contentions among us,” based not on theology but on our jurisdictional affiliation.

I don’t know what to say or do about this. But I think St. Paul would say to us as he said to the Corinthians: “Is Christ divided? Was Kirill or Onuphrius or Bartholomew or Epiphanius crucified for you? Or were you baptized in their name?” And I think that each of us, as members of a church “apostolic,” which we believe to be “apostolic,” can re-embrace our sense of belonging to Christ, Who was indeed crucified for us, and our sense of belonging to our Triune God, in Whose name we were indeed baptized. He gave to us “the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (Jn 1:12b-13)

This morning we can re-embrace this “right,” even as we bear the cross of history, also of recent history, in our separate little jurisdictions. Holy Apostles, pray to God for us!