Friday, October 8, 2010

Paul, the Galatians, and Us

In Paul’s Letter to the Galatians he addresses a problem within the community—someone has been telling them that they need to give greater emphasis to the Law and that Paul hasn’t told them everything, that he’s watered down the message.

His response in this letter is power packed. He makes his point that while there is nothing contrary to God in the Mosaic Law (the Law of Moses), salvation comes through Jesus Christ. Hundreds of years before the Law was given, God made a covenant with Abraham. The covenant(the promise)came before the Law. That covenant is fulfilled in Jesus Christ and that is where our focus should be.

The problem of the Galatians is relevant for us today in a couple of ways. First, too often Christians criticize each other, implying that if they do not do this or that act of piety, then they must not be real Christians. Catholics are growing in this philosophy as well.

Devotional practices such as First Fridays and praying the Rosary are good things that should be encouraged, but external practices such as these should never be a cause of contention, causing brothers and sisters to raise judgments against each other.

Secondly, we do not have to wonder what Paul might say to those in our own community who have accepted what others are telling them. Paul told the people of Galatia that they knew what he taught them, yet they allowed themselves to drift away. We, too, imitate those in the Galatian community, when we let others lead us into thinking that abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, co-habitation and a whole host of other contemporary sins are acceptable.

We must remember that it is the cross of Jesus Christ that brings salvation to all. Nothing else. The Law is significant, but Jesus is the door through which we are raised to eternal life, the narrow door through which we must pass and the wide open door that is available to all who choose to walk through it.

Faith in Jesus, not strict observance of the Law which he fulfills, must always be our desire. We move in the Spirit of the Law.

We want to do good works and practice acts of devotion because of the love we have for Jesus. That is faith in action and it goes far beyond external, pious acts done not out of love and charity, but obligation.

Remember, in our humanity, we may more easily be tempted to contemplate God's Divine Mercy rather than practice it by loving our neighbor. When we can accomplish both, we will begin to understand how to practice our faith.

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