Born to preach [text only]
Sunday sermon on the letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians 1:11-19
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.
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.” We now know that all roads, in fact, lead to Jesus Christ. The end of our journey is Christ.
He also happens to be the beginning of the journey. Actually, He is the Journey. As Saint Paul says in his letter to the Colossians, “Christ is all” (Colossians 3:11). Quite simply, He is everything.
Saint 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.
Of all the books of the New Testament, Saint Paul’s letters are the oldest. He wrote them a few decades 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 Pharisee, in fact, one of the best among his peers. That led him to persecuting Christians. He was such a zealous Pharisee 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 his faith became full. His Judaism was fulfilled in Christ. 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.”
So what is the Gospel then? Is it a nice looking book we keep on the altar table? No. The Gospel is not even a book. The Gospel is 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 victorious from a war.
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 Himself. 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 through His glorious Resurrection.
Every one of us has a special journey and to everyone of us God reveals His Gospel, reveals Christ in different ways. Sometimes more explicitly, sometimes implicitly. Sometimes we are just too … blind to see, or too deaf to hear; seeing we do not perceive, and hearing we do not understand. (Isaiah 6:9)
We are just like Saint 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; or rather, looking for Him in all the wrong places. Paul even admits that he “was far more zealous for the traditions of his fathers.” And all those traditions led to him 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 our 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 do everything they can to make sure we are raised as Christians. Just like Paul, we all have been elected for God’s work even before our birth.
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 the other apostles.
Just like Paul we have this great opportunity to preach Christ to a society that is slowly losing Him. But why is it important to preach, why do we do it? Why can’t we just live our little, boring Christian lives in our own corner, not bothering anyone with Christ and not being bothered by Him? After all, He reveals Himself to whoever He wants, why should we interrupt that?
Thank 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 is born, a grandkid graduates from one of the grades for which we now have annual graduation parties or the kid gets into a prestigious college, or we finally get that dream job…what do we do right away? We tell someone! We tell them, “Hey, listen to this great thing that has happened to me/to my family/, listen to my great news, listen to my gospel…”
We always eagerly preach our own gospels, but not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We do not have a problem walking around and telling people of our own accomplishments, or the things are children achieve, or even how well our favorite football team is doing. But when it comes to the Gospel…well, that’s private business. Really? According to whom?
We have different journeys, but all of us have the same end in Christ. We have been set apart even before being born, so that God would reveal His Son through us to others. What else do we need?
To our Lord Jesus Christ, Who reveals Himself to us, so that we would witness to Him through our lives, together with His Father and the Holy Spirit, we give glory, honor, and worship, always, now and ever and unto ages of ages.
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