This June we complete the Pauline Year which began in June of 2008 on the Feast of St. Paul (June 29th). We have been invited to meet St. Paul again through his letters to us and through our prayerful reflection on his life. In our reading of Paul’s letters we find that “various aspects of today’s social and cultural contexts are not very different then what they were in Paul’s time” (Benedict XVI). This year we have striven to learn from St. Paul, to learn faith, to learn to live in Christ. Paul ends his letter to the Galatians with this sentence: “Let no one trouble me, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). This was Paul’s witness to the journey of his life, a life of communion with Jesus Christ.. In Galatians Paul speaks of the new creation in Christ. Comparing the works of the flesh to the fruits of the Spirit, Paul encourages us to walk in the Spirit as we live by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16). Flowers on fruit bearing trees are beautiful and sweet smelling. When they fall to the ground we look for the beginnings of the fruit quietly growing underneath.. Paul reminds us that much of our life is hidden in Christ while the fruit of the Spirit quietly and patiently continues to grow. Outward show may count for nothing, what counts is that we are a new creation (Gal. 6:15). Paul reminds us that he is not seeking the favor of others but to be a servant of Christ. As servant’s of Christ we “bear the burdens of one another” in fulfillment of the law of Christ At the heart of Paul’s preaching is the gift of the Pascal mystery (1 Cor. 2:2; 15:14). Living a Pascal/Eucharistic life becomes a reality in Christian love. Paul expressed this in his original concept of Church as God’s building, God’s field, God’s temple (1 Cor. 3:9; 16). It is not a physical place, but interpersonal relationships that are now considered sacred. God dwells in us, in the living community of believers, the household of God (1 Tim. 3: 1-5). We are the Temple of God in the world. We practice God’s love in this world as a sign of His presence. Paul’s letter to the Galatians tells us how he waited patiently as the Church bore fruit. All that he had accomplished, that flowering of the churches, was now growing, hidden with Christ in God. Paul is known as the patron of patience for this reason. He did not want to run in vain so he presented “his gospel” to the Church—to St. Peter. At times he was frustrated by “false brethren, those spying on his freedom, and those preventing his mission” (Gal. 2:3ff). He took Peter to task when Peter put outward appearance and approval of others before the gospel. Paul knew that in his own efforts to be justified, he could become a transgressor (Gal. 2:18). He accepted the pain of “giving birth” in Christ (Gal. 4:19). He repeated his act of faith: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20). Paul begs us to put on Christ (Gal 3:27). Through love, Paul tells us, be servants of one another. Do not grow weary doing good, for in due season you will reap the fruits of the Spirit. He exhorts us to do good to everyone while there is still time (Gal. 6:10). “In Christ we become living letters of God to humanity. When we tell the story of Jesus to others, we become channels of grace. When we live as Jesus taught, we become symbols for all to marvel at” (Fr. Jeffrey Mickler, SSP).
TRUTH Read Gal. 6:2 We are saved by the gift of God, not because of any works we do or any external actions. We love our brothers and sisters as expressions of our worship in Christ. We are the sign of God’s presence in the world as His sacred Temple. The fruit we bear is by God’s grace.
WAY Meditate God is rich in Mercy. While we were dead through trespasses and sins He made us alive in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2) to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1). Fr. Alberione based Pauline spirituality on a love for the scriptures and the Eucharist. He wanted to bring this spirituality to bear on the media ministry.
LIFE Pray May the eyes of our heart be enlightened so that we know the hope to which we are called. Christ is head over all things for the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way (Eph.1:22).
LIVE Act Paul was irreproachable in the way he fulfilled all external responses to the law. He was zealous in the way he comported himself and in the way he upheld all that was expected of him in the faith/culture he was immersed in. On the road to Damascus, as he continued to carry out all that he knew to be right, Paul encountered the person of Christ. He was enlightened. This new awareness of Christ temporarily blinded him in its brightness. Paul refused to eat. To rise from his desolate state would take great humility and trust, and not just on Paul’s part. Ananias was called to bear Paul’s burden, to encourage and strengthen Paul who was a dangerous persecutor. Paul accepted the help of Ananias who than led him to the Christian community. From this experience Paul knew that to love was to fulfill the law. The wisdom that overshadowed his former knowledge was that the Church is the body of Christ and we are God’s Temple. Christ became Paul’s true identity. Paul tells us that our true identity is in Christ. Transformed by this love we realize that “charity is the fulfillment of communion with Christ” (Benedict XVI).
Lord, Jesus, you know we have no faith in our own powers; in your mercy grant that we may know and glorify God. With your grace we promise to do our utmost that the gospel may be diffused in the spirit of our father, St. Paul.
St. Paul, from a persecutor of Christianity, you became a very ardent and zealous apostle. You endured persecutions of every kind. When we read your letters they speak to our heart of the patience we desire to live our own afflictions. Intercede for us to God that we may bear the burdens of those we love and of those in our community, remembering that God’s glory (Greek: God’s nature) will be revealed in us and that God’s Spirit gives witness through us (Rom. 8:16-17; Cf. Fr. Alberione).