Monday of the Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 491

Paul, a slave of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ for the sake of the faith of God’s chosen ones and the recognition of religious truth, in the hope of eternal life
that God, who does not lie, promised before time began, who indeed at the proper time revealed his word in the proclamation with which I was entrusted
by the command of God our savior,
to Titus, my true child in our common faith...

That's quite a moniker Paul applies to himself, sixty-six words which describe his mission as "slave of God and Apostle of Jesus Christ."

For the sake of the faith of God's chosen ones: Saint Paul is a man with a mission; he must support the faith of those who believe in Jesus. They are not simply "of the opinion" that Jesus died and was raised up; they believe in the man who has been revealed as the Saving God. Perhaps they have believed in other persons or institutions or opinions. They might have hoped these allegiances could save them. Some people think it's important to be right in their facts and opinions; others are patriotic, thinking "my country right or wrong." Some people give their lives to building a company, finding energy, meaning and purpose in sixteen hour days and attenuated vacations. Still others have surrendered their lives to their children, spouses or parents, finding no purpose except in devotion to other people.

Saint Paul's people have turned away from every human institution to believe in the God who reveals himself in Jesus. They believe that he has already won the victory. He has faced death and destroyed it. He was overwhelmed by shame and guilt but was raised up by his God and Father. Saint Paul's people live in the confidence of Jesus' victory but they face daily challenges from patriots who love their country and misers who love their business and pedants who love their facts.

Saint Paul's people see fear all around them and feel their vulnerability to it. Fear is contagious especially because frightened people want everyone else to be afraid. They complain loudly at those who don't tremble in the face of financial loss, broken health or military defeat. Saint Paul's people contemplate Jesus' victory and hear his constant exhortation, "Do not be afraid."

Their confidence is born of religious truth and the hope of eternal life. They know that God does not lie. He promised victory before time began, and revealed his word in the proclamation with which Paul was entrusted.

Paul habitually and routinely faced threats and dangers. He was an action hero to match anything Hollywood could imagine. Did he tremble in fear? Probably. But filled with the spirit he survived for the sake of the faith of God’s chosen ones. He endured betrayals, beatings, imprisonment and storms at sea. If he didn't walk on water he certainly managed it metaphorically, always keeping his eyes on Jesus, always inspiring his people to trust in God -- by the command of God our Savior.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.