The second reading on Sunday, the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, comes from St Paul and is precious testimony to the traditio, the handing on the faith of the Church – even at this early stage known to be something received from the community of believers, and not a merely personal individual ‘take’ on faith and life.
Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, the gospel that you received and in which you are firmly established; because the gospel will save you only if you keep believing exactly what I preached to you – believing anything else will not lead to anything.
Well then, in the first place, I taught you what I had been taught myself, namely that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; and that he was raised to life on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared first to Cephas and secondly to the Twelve. Next he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died; then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles; and last of all he appeared to me too; it was as though I was born when no one expected it.
I am the least of the apostles; in fact, since I persecuted the Church of God, I hardly deserve the name apostle; but by God’s grace that is what I am, and the grace that he gave me has not been fruitless. On the contrary, I, or rather the grace of God that is with me, have worked harder than any of the others; but what matters is that I preach what they preach, and this is what you all believed.
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Sin, ‘littleness’, nothing in us and nothing about us makes us unworthy to receive the Gospel, or incapable of responding to it. It is freely shared and shared with all.
Having received it we are called, invited, to respond. How we respond will depend on our circumstances and ourselves. But as the example of Paul, especially, makes clear, the power of God in us makes our response capable of being quite extraordinary – leading us to new and unimagined works of grace.
- What might be your first, next, step to newness in God’s grace?
Shrine of St Paul at Beroea, Greece. (c) 2006, Allen Morris