The Second reading at Mass yesterday,Sunday, the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, began a series of Sunday readings from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.
It is quite some letter! And it is not so easy to get a sense of its passion from the Sunday readings only. It is not a long letter, so why not take time to re-read it in your bible, or read it on line here.
One of the aspects of Paul that we can sometimes overlook is the role Paul took in the persecution of the Church, and his participation in the murder of Stephen the Deacon.
The Good News I preached is not a human message that I was given by men, it is something I learnt only through a revelation of Jesus Christ. You must have heard of my career as a practising Jew, how merciless I was in persecuting the Church of God, how much damage I did to it, how I stood out among other Jews of my generation, and how enthusiastic I was for the traditions of my ancestors.
Then God, who had specially chosen me while I was still in my mother’s womb, called me through his grace and chose to reveal his Son in me, so that I might preach the Good News about him to the pagans. I did not stop to discuss this with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were already apostles before me, but I went off to Arabia at once and later went straight back from there to Damascus. Even when after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him for fifteen days, I did not see any of the other apostles; I only saw James, the brother of the Lord.
Paul confesses his part in that persecution, but also knows that he has repented of that, and knowing that, in Christ, he has been set free from sin, and free to share the Good News with others. In his passion he know works for the upbuilding of the nations, sharing with them the promise first made to Israel.
- For what are you passionate?
- For what have you needed to repent?
- From what have you been set free?
- With whom and why might you wish to share the Good News of Jesus Christ?
Paul at the stoning of St Stephen. St Paul outside the Walls, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.