Sunday, October 22, on the Epistle to Galatians 1:11-19.
The spiritual journey of each of us is a unique path, designed specifically for us, based on our abilities. It’s like going to a dietologist and getting specific diet that no one else might have. Some can handle more, some should handle more, some can’t or should not.
But the end of our journeys is one and the same. In the ancient Rome they used to say, “All roads lead to Rome.” What they meant to say was, “All roads lead to Jesus Christ.” The end of our journey is Christ.
In fact, He is the beginning of the journey. He is the Journey. And He is its end. As St Paul says in one of his letters, “Christ is all” (Colossians 3:11). Quite simply, He is everything.
St Paul also today talks briefly about his own spiritual journey, and there are two points I would like to focus on – the revelation of Christ and His Gospel, and Paul being set apart for God’s work even before he was born.
At our Bible Study we talked about the fact that Paul wrote his letters to different Christian communities he established a decade or two before any of the Gospels were written. The question is – how did he know what to teach and what to write? He did not know or see Christ, here on earth.
As he says, he grew up a pretty staunch Jew, in fact, one of the best among his peers. Then he was persecuting Christians. He was such a zealous Jew that he could not stand those pesky Christians.
Then one day, as he was travelling to capture more Christians and send them to death, Christ appeared to Paul and he converted. Paul went from a devoted Jew to a loyal Christian, and preached Christ with the same fervor he was persecuting Him before.
For the first three years he did not approach any of the 12 apostles, he was preaching on his own. But who told him what to teach? How did he know the Gospel? He provides the answer in today’s Epistle: “I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
The next question we should be asking ourselves is – what is the Gospel? Gospel is not some nice looking book. The Gospel is not even a book. It’s contained in a book, but it is not a book itself.
The word “Gospel” means “good news,” “news of victory.” In the ancient times this word was used when a new king was born, or when a king returned from war victorious.
In the Christian sense, the Gospel is Jesus Christ Himself. When the Gospel is revealed to us, it’s not “something” that is revealed, but Jesus Christ is revealed by God. And Christ is our salvation. He is the one Who freely made us God’s free children through His voluntary death on the Cross and Resurrection.
Everyone of us has a special journey and to everyone of us God reveals His Gospel, reveals Christ in different ways. Sometimes more explicit, sometimes more implicit. Sometimes we are just too … blind to see, or too deaf to hear.
We are just like St Paul, who was set apart for God’s work even before he was born, yet he spent the first part of his life running away from God, persecuting God. God, no doubt, was trying to show Paul his true purpose in life, but Paul didn’t see it, so God had to do it in a more radical way.
Christ appeared to Paul on the road as a bright light, such a bright light that Paul became blind right away, and he regained his sight only after being baptized.
Paul says that he was elected by God before birth, but here’s a secret that we all know because we’ve heard it at least once in our lives, but we have forgotten about it – we ALL have been elected for God’s work even before our birth.
We heard this secret at baptism, of course. Ok, maybe some of us were too young to remember it. But that’s why we have godparents, who promised before Christ that they will be reminding us, among other things, about being set apart by God and for God.
That’s why our parents baptized us in the first place, because they wanted to pass down to us the great Christian values that they hold so dear. But us being humans, we forgot…what would we do without St Paul reminding us, right?
Paul, after God so extremely reminded him about his true calling and set him back on the right path of his journey, ran to tell others about the Gospel, for three years he was preaching before finally meeting up with the other apostles.
In the past few weeks I’ve been talking about this great opportunity we have to preach Christ to a society that is slowly losing Him. And I was thinking, why is it important to preach, why do we do it? Yes, Christ says so Himself in the Gospel of Matthew, which is read during baptism. Yes, Christ sent out His disciples to do just that, and we are their successors.
But why can’t I just live my little Christian life in my own corner and not bother anyone with Christ? After all, He reveals Himself to whoever He wants, why should I interrupt that?
Thanks God Paul didn’t think that way. He was so overjoyed to finally meet his Savior that he could not contain himself. He felt like we feel when we have great news and have an urge to share with someone. Even if we are the most private people in the universe, we still share our best news with the immediate family or best friends.
Let’s say a child or grandchild is born, or the children get into a prestigious college, or we finally get that dream job…what do we do right away? (go on facebook…) We tell someone! We tell them, “Hey, listen to my great news, listen to my gospel….”
We preach our own gospel, but not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have different journeys, but the same end in Christ. We have been set apart before being born so that God would reveal His Gospel through us to others.
And who would not want to preach about God’s mercy and love for us?
Unless otherwise specified, the articles here are posted by Fr Aleksey, who has no sense of humor and is extremely straight forward.