From the Pastor's Desk
Fr. Dan White, S.J.
June 9, 2013
Happy Ordinary Time! The second reading for the next month or so will come from Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians. I recommend reading the entirety of this short letter. To say that this is Paul at his rawest would be an understatement. He calls the church there “fools” at one point (3:1), and wishes his opponents to be castrated in another (5:12). I kid you not.
What had gotten Paul so upset? The issue was the proper living out of the Christian faith. Paul was utterly convinced the new life in Christ made following the Jewish Law, especially circumcision and feast days, irrelevant. His opponents argued otherwise. When the Church in Galatia begins to “backslide”, in the eyes of Paul, he lets them have it.
The tone of the Letter to the Galatians reminds us of something very important: even a saint can sometimes be obnoxious. Scholars argue Paul’s opponents were not the malicious, spiteful dividers he describes, but faithful believers seeking to understand how to serve Jesus Christ. Paul allows his passions to get the better of him when he demonizes those who disagree with him.
Saints are not perfect. We often put them, literally, on a pedestal but they are as flawed as any of us. Paul certainly knew that about himself. The text of Galatians reveals some of his very real shortcomings. Rather than being scandalized, I find it encouraging to know this. Our great models in faith share our weakness. They remind us to put our hope in God alone.