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To: All

From: Galatians 1:6-12

A Warning

[6] I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called
you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel--[7] not
that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and
want to pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But even if we, or an angel
from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we
preached to you, let him be accursed. [9] As we have said before, so
now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to
that which you received, let him be accursed.

[10] Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to
please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of

God's Call

[11] For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was
preached by me is not man's gospel. [12] For I did not receive it from
man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus


6-9. The Galatians had suddenly begun to go off course, for no sooner
had St Paul preached to them during his second visit, than enemies of
his appeared on the scene seeking to undermine his authority and had
won over the Galatians, especially on the matter of circumcision.

In view of this, the Apostle clearly and forcefully spells out to the Gala-
tians that there is only one Gospel, only one way to attain salvation.
"These people", St Jerome explains, "wanted to change the Gospel,
to twist it; but that is something they cannot succeed in doing, for
this Gospel is such that it cannot be true if it is tampered with"
("Comm. in Gal", 1, 7).

The content of Revelation--the deposit of faith--cannot be interfered
with. The Apostles, as their very title implies, were sent to pass on,
in all its integrity, what had been entrusted to them (cf. 1 Cor 11:23).
That is why St Paul tells his assistants in the government of the
Church, Titus and Timothy, to guard very carefully the truths he has
taught them (cf. 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 1:14; Tit 1:9; 2:1; etc.).

St Paul is extremely insistent on the need to protect the deposit of
faith, and he reacts very forcefully against those who seek to adul-
terate it, as we can see in this present text. Any attempt to replace
the true Gospel of Jesus Christ with a different teaching does indeed
warrant the severe judgment which the Apostle here delivers in God's
name. In the same way, "the Church which received the office of
safeguarding the deposit of faith along with the apostolic duty of
teaching, likewise possesses the right and duty of proscribing [...]
opinions that are known to be opposed to the doctrine of the faith"
(Vatican I, "Dei Filius", chap. 4).

There is, then, no "new Christianity" waiting to be discovered. "The
Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive
covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be
expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ"
(Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 5).

10. One of the accusations directed against St Paul was that, in order
to make it easier for people to become Christians, he tried to win them
over by not requiring Gentiles to undergo circumcision. In fact the
Apostle's only aim was to serve Christ; for him, as St John Chrysostom
put it, "to love Christ was life, the world, heaven, present well-being, the
kingdom, the promise, immeasurable good; outside of this he did not
concern himself with classifying things as sorrowful or joyful, nor did
he regard anything that one might have in this world as disagreeable
or pleasant" ("Second Hom. in Praise of St Paul").

St Paul can assert that he did not mind if there were people who did
not understand him or even rejected his teaching. He had plenty of ex-
perience of opposition to the demands of the Gospel; and this never led
him to play down the reality of the Cross in order to make more accep-
table the truth he was proclaiming. In addition to lack of response from
Gentiles, his faithfulness to Christ had also earned him enmity and per-
secution from Jews (cf. Acts 13:50).

We can learn a great deal from Paul to help us not to be cowed by
"what people may think". Although Christian living does sometimes
clash with the environment around us, we should not desist from trying
to be faithful to the demands of the Gospel. "Therefore, when in our own
life or in that of others we notice something that is not going well, some-
thing that requires the spiritual and human help which, as children of
God, we can and ought to provide, then a clear sign of prudence is to
apply the appropriate remedy by going to the root of the trouble, resolu-
tely, lovingly and sincerely. There is no room here for inhibitions, for it
is a great mistake to think that problems can be solved by inaction or
procrastination" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 157).

St Teresa, for her part, writes: "We are trying to attain union with God.
We want to follow the counsels of Christ, on whom were showered in-
sults and false witness. Are we, then, really so anxious to keep intact
our own reputation and credit? We cannot do so and yet attain to union,
for the two ways diverge" ("Life", chap. 31). If we are truly to serve God
we must be ready to face indifference and misunderstanding whenever
it may arise. "You must indeed have purified your intention well when
you said: From this moment on I renounce all human gratitude and
reward" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 789).

11-12. "What shall I do, Lord?" (Acts 22:10), Paul asked at the mo-
ment of his conversion. Jesus replied, 'Rise, and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do" (ibid.).
The former persecutor, now under the influence of grace, will receive
instruction and Baptism through the ordinary course of divine Provi-
dence -- from a man, Ananias. Thereby Jesus led him to humility,
obedience and abandonment. The Gospel which St Paul preached
was identical with that preached by the other Apostles, and already
had the character of "tradition" in the nascent Church (cf. 1 Cor 15:3;
Gal 2:2). This is compatible with Paul's claim--made in this passage
-- that his Gospel does not come from any man but through a revela-
tion from Jesus Christ. Firstly, because on seeing the risen Christ he
was given supernatural light to understand that Jesus was not only the
Messiah but also the Son of God; and also because this first revelation
was followed by many others to which he refers in his epistles (cf. 1
Cor 11:23; 13:3-8 and especially 2 Cor 12:1-4).

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries".
Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate.
Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University
of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin,
Reprinted with permission from from Four Courts Press and Scepter
Publishers, the U.S. publishers.

6 posted on 10/09/2006 8:25:19 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All

From: Luke 10:25-37

Parable of the Good Samaritan

[25] And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him (Jesus) to the test,
saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" [26] He said
to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read?" [27] And he
answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and
with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind:
and your neighbor as yourself." [28] And He said to him, "You have
answered right; do this, and you will live." [29] But he, desiring to
justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" [30] Jesus
replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell
among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving
him half dead. [31] Now by chance a priest was going down that road;
and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. [32] So like-
wise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on
the other side. [33] But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where
he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, [34] and went to
him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set
him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
[35] And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the
inn-keeper, saying, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend,
I will repay you when I come back.' [36] Which of these three, do you
think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" [37]
He said, "The one who showed mercy on him." And Jesus said to
him, "Go and do likewise."


25-28. Our Lord's teaching is that the way to attain eternal life is through
faithful fulfillment of the Law of God. The Ten Command- ments, which
God gave Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:1-17), express the natural
law in a clear and concrete way. It is part of Christian teaching that the
natural law exists, that it is a participation by rational creatures in the
Eternal Law and that it is impressed on the conscience of every man
when heis created by God (cf. Leo XIII, "Libertas Praestantissimum").
Obviously, therefore, the natural law, expressed in the Ten Command-
ments, cannot change or become outdated, for it is not dependent on
man's will or on changing circumstances.

In this passage, Jesus praises and accepts the summary of the Law
given by the Jewish scribe. This reply, taken from Deuteronomy (6:4ff),
was a prayer which the Jews used to say frequently. Our Lord gives
the very same reply when He is asked which is the principal command-
ment of the Law and concludes His answer by saying, "On these two
commandments depend all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:40;
cf. also Romans 13:8-9; Galatians 5:14).

There is a hierarchy and order in these two commandments constitu-
ting the double precept of charity: before everything and above every-
thing comes loving God in Himself; in the second place, and as a con-
sequence of the first commandment, comes loving one's neighbor, for
God explicitly requires us to do so (1 John 4:21; cf. notes on Matthew
22:34-40 and 22:37-38).

This passage of the Gospel also included another basic doctrine: the
Law of God is not something negative--"Do not do this"--but something
completely positive--love. Holiness, to which all baptized people are
called, does not consist in not sinning, but in loving, in doing positive
things, in bearing fruit in the form of love of God. When our Lord des-
cribes for us the Last Judgment He stresses this positive aspect of the
Law of God (Matthew 25:31-46). The reward of eternal life will be given
to those who do good.

27. "Yes, our only occupation here on earth is that of loving God--that
is, to start doing what we will be doing for all eternity. Why must we
love God? Well, because our happiness consists in love of God; it
can consist in nothing else. So, if we do not love God, we will always
be unhappy; and if we wish to enjoy any consolation and relief in our
pains, we will attain it only by recourse to love of God. If you want to
be convinced of this, go and find the happiest man according to the
world; if he does not love God, you will find that in fact he is an unhap-
py man. And, on the contrary, if you discover the man most unhappy
in the eyes of the world, you will see that because he loves God he is
happy in every way. Oh my God!, open the eyes of our souls, and we
will seek our happiness where we truly can find it" (St. John Mary Vian-
ney, "Selected Sermons", Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost).

29-37. In this moving parable, which only St. Luke gives us, our Lord
explains very graphically who our neighbor is and how we should show
charity towards him, even if he is our enemy.

Following other Fathers, St. Augustine ("De Verbis Domini Sermones",
37) identifies the Good Samaritan with our Lord, and the waylaid man
with Adam, the source and symbol of all fallen mankind. Moved by
compassion and piety, He comes down to earth to cure man's wounds,
making them His own (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John
3:5). In fact, we often see Jesus being moved by man's suffering (cf.
Matthew 9:36; Mark 1:41; Luke 7:13). And St. John says: "In this the
love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son
into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that
we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation
for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one
another" (1 John 4:9-11).

This parable leaves no doubt about who our neighbor is--anyone (without
distinction of race or relationship) who needs our help; nor about how we
should love him--by taking pity on him, being compassionate towards
his spiritual and corporal needs; and it is not just a matter of having the
right feelings towards him; we must do something, we must generously
serve him.

Christians, who are disciples of Christ, should share His love and com-
passion, never distancing themselves from others' needs. One way to
express love for one's neighbor is perform the "works of mercy", which
get their name from the fact that they are not duties in justice. There are
fourteen such works, seven spiritual and seven corporal. The spiritua
are: To convert the sinner; To instruct the ignorant; To counsel the doubt-
ful; To comfort the sorrowful; To bear wrongs patiently; To forgive injuries;
To pray for the living and the dead. The corporal works are: To feed the
hungry; To give drink to the thirsty; To clothe the naked; To shelter the
homeless; To visit the sick; To visit the imprisoned; To bury the dead.

31-32. Very probably one reason why our Lord used this parable was to
correct one of the excesses of false piety common among His contem
poraries. According to the Law of Moses, contact with dead bodies in-
volved legal impurity, from which one was cleansed by various ablutions
(cf. Numbers 19:11-22; Leviticus 21:1-4, 11-12). These regulations were
not meant to prevent people from helping the injured; they were designed
for reasons of hygiene and respect for the dead. The aberration of the
priest and the Levite in this parable consisted in this: they did not know
for sure whether the man who had been assaulted was dead or not, and
hey preferred to apply a wrong interpretation of a secondary, ritualistic
precept of the Law rather than obey the more important commandment
of loving one's neighbor and giving him whatever help one can.

Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries".
Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate.
Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University
of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin,
Reprinted with permission from from Four Courts Press and Scepter
Publishers, the U.S. publishers.

7 posted on 10/09/2006 8:26:30 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies ]

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