Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Amazing St. Paul

Yes, you’ve guessed it. From Luke’s Gospel, we have arrived at Acts of the Apostles. I’ve got to tell you that, coinciding with the Year of Paul, a love of and admiration for the Apostle to the Gentiles grew up in me. Before that I only looked at Paul as the author of the Letter to the Romans, which, Augustinians know, was the pivot-point for the whole Pelagian Controversy, and the centre of Augustine’s theology of grace. Since then I have begun to appreciate Paul as a living being, a man with a past (not to be summarily dismissed as spiritually depraved and therefore historically irrelevant), a man who was a key vessel for the work of the Holy Spirit in the early Church, a man who had keen and yet developing insights. Feminist and others have defamed Paul and removed him from our midst by contrasting him with Christ. Only people with no brain could do that. Paul was the most faithful disciple of our Lord.

To introduce my students to Paul I have sagely chosen Benedict XVI’s “St. Paul” – The General Audiences, July 2, 2008 to February 4, 2009. It is the perfect introduction. It is extremely well planned out, yet not too complicated for the beginner, and touches on the relevant historical and theological points of Paul’s life.

In terms of Paul’s relationship with Jesus, the key chapter in the seventh. Let us not forget that, although he never saw Jesus in the flesh, he saw Jesus in the flesh: Paul bases his knowledge of Christ on his face-to-face encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus. It was a knowledge perfected by communion with the other Apostles, but the most significant part of it came from that mystical encounter with the risen Lord. When Paul lists the appearances of the Lord after Easter, he notably lists the appearance on the road to Damascus with the appearance to Cephas, that to the five-hundred and the others. What does this tell you? That he put all of them on an equal footing.

1 comment:

  1. old post, but would this book be too pithy for a busy mama, you think? Recently watched Father Robert Barron's Catholicism series, was particularly inspired to read more on Saints Peter and Paul. Any recommendations would be welcome...