II COR. 11:19-31 * LUKE 8:4-15
He said as much in another epistle, writing to the Church in Philipi these words:
In today's epistle, he did not write the long list of things he endured in order to boast, but to establish credentials that his critics did not have, namely certain false apostles and teachers who were troubling the Church in Corinth. That is, he was not waxing rich or gaining status in the world, and was not living in luxury. That he chose to continue his life of persecution and danger, and great discomfort, instead of going back to Tarsus to profit from his family's tent-making business (no doubt as suppliers to the imperial army), was offered as proof that his service was genuine. For that reason, and that reason alone, he wrote those words to the Christians in Corinth, that they would hear him and turn away from the false teachers. The Apostle warned about them in the same chapter from which today's Epistle reading was taken:
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." (II Corinthians 11:3,4)
It really does matter who you allow to serve as your spiritual leader, teacher and guide, due to the very same problem: A false gospel, another Jesus, and another spirit which we did not receive (that is, not the Holy Spirit Who we received in our Confirmation). St. Paul actually came right out and told the Corinthian Christians that some ministers are called into their vocation by Satan, not by God.
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (vs. 13-15)
Issues are of eternal consequence, not simply matters of liturgical taste. Furthermore, with eternity in mind, live your life as part of the Church, for that is where the true Gospel is taught, where the pure Word of God is preached and where the sacraments are duly administered. That is what matters, whether every detail is to our taste or not. It is not about satisfying our emotions (which satisfaction may come or not come) but about eternal life with Christ.
It is in this context, when St. Paul told those ancient Christians in the city of Corinth that they needed to follow him, and reject the false ministers of a false Gospel, that he reminded them of his own sufferings and persecutions. I have quoted a few parts of the same chapter that lead to the Epistle appointed for this day. Let me remind you of a little bit of it:
"Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not."
In light of that, once again I want to quote those words from another epistle, the Epistle to the Philippians: