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2 posted on 10/08/2012 8:11:30 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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From: Galatians 1:13-24

God’s Call (Continuation)

[13] For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the
church of God violently and tried to destroy it; [14] and I advanced in Judaism
beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for
the traditions of my fathers. [15] But when he who had set me apart before I was
born, and had called me through his grace, [16] was pleased to reveal his Son
to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with
flesh and blood, [17] nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles be-
fore me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus.

[18] Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained
with him fifteen days. [19] But I saw none of the other apostles except James the
Lord’s brother. [20] (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) [21] Then
I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. [22] And I was still not known by sight
to the churches of Christ in Judea; [23] they only heard it said, “He who once per-
secuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy; [24] And they glo-
rified God because of me.


13-14. The Acts of the Apostles tell us about Paul’s religious zeal; a Pharisee,
he had studied under Gamaliel (cf. Acts 22:3; Phil 3:5) and had consented to and
been present at the martyrdom of Stephen (cf. Acts 7:58; 8:1). Saul had stood
out as a persecutor of Christians, so keen was he to seek them out and imprison
them, even going beyond Judea to do so (cf. Acts 9:1-2). Clearly he had been a
man convinced of his Jewish faith, a zealous keeper of the Law, and proud to be
a Jew (cf. Rom 11:1 ; 2 Cor 11:22). Such was the fear the early Christians had
of him that they could not bring themselves to believe in his conversion (cf. Acts
9:26). However, this same fervor and passion, to use St Augustine’s comparison
(cf. “Contra Faustum”, XXII, 70) was like a dense jungle — a serious obstacle and
yet an indication of immensely fertile soil. Our Lord sowed the seed of the Gos-
pel in that soil and it produced a very rich crop.

Everyone, no matter how irregular his life may have been, can produce good re-
sults like this — with the help of grace, which does not displace nature but heals
and purifies it, and then raises and perfects it: Courage! You...can! Don’t you see
what God’s grace did with sleepy-headed Peter, the coward who had denied him
..., and with Paul, his fierce and relentless persecutor?” (St. J. Escriva, “The
Way”, 483).

15-16. More than once in Scripture we read about God choosing certain people
for special missions even when they were still in their mother’s womb (cf. Jer 1:5;
Is 49:1-5; Lk 1:15; etc.). This emphasizes the fact that God makes a gratuitous
choice: there is no question of the person’s previous merits contributing to God’s
decision. Vocation is a supernatural divine gift, which God has planned from all
eternity. When God made his will known on the road to Damascus (cf. Acts 9:
3-6), St Paul “did not confer with flesh and blood”, that is, did not seek advice
from anyone, because he was absolutely sure that God himself had called him.
Nor did he consent to the prudence of the flesh, seeking to “play safe”: his self-
surrender was immediate, total and unconditional. When the Apostles heard Je-
sus inviting them to follow him, they “immediately left their nets” (Mt 4:20, 22;
Mk 1:18) and followed the Master, leaving everything behind (cf. Lk 5:11). We
see the same thing happening in Saul’s case: he responds immediately. If he
makes his way to Ananias, he does so on the explicit instructions of Jesus —
in order to receive instruction and Baptism and to discover what his mission is
to be (Acts 9:15-16).

God’s call, therefore, should receive an immediate response. “Consider the faith
and obedience of the Apostles”, St John Chrysostom says. “They are in the
midst of their work (and you know how attractive fishing is!). When they hear his
command, they do not vacillate or lose any time: they do not say, ‘Let’s go home
and say goodbye to our parents.’ No, they leave everything and follow him [...].
That is the kind of obedience Christ asks of us — not to delay even a minute, no
matter how important the things that might keep us” (”Hom. on St Matthew”, 14,
2). And St Cyril of Alexandria comments: “For Jesus also said, ‘No one who puts
his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God’, and he loo-
ked back who asked permission to return home and speak to his parents. But
we see that the holy Apostles did not act in that way; rather they followed Jesus,
immediately leaving the boat and their parents behind. Paul also acted immedia-
tely. He ‘did not confer with flesh and blood’. That is how those who want to fol-
low Christ must act” (”Commentarium in Lucam”, 9).

A person has a duty to follow Christ even if his relatives are opposed to his doing
so or want him to delay making a final decision, perhaps because they feel that
would be the more (humanly) prudent course: “A person should honor his parents,
but God he should obey. We should love the one who has begotten us, but the
first place should be given to him who created us”, St Augustine says, not min-
cing words (”Sermon 100”).

Even if we are unsure as to whether we are strong enough to persevere, this
should not delay us or concern us: it should simply lead us to pray confidently
for God’s help, because, as Vatican II teaches, when God calls a person, he
“must reply without taking counsel with flesh and blood and must give himself
fully to the work of the Gospel. However, such an answer can only be given with
the encouragement and help of the Holy Spirit [...]. Therefore, he must be pre-
pared to remain faithful to his vocation for life, to renounce himself and everything
that up to this he possessed as his own, and to make himself ‘all things to all
men’ (1 Cor 9:22)” (”Ad Gentes”, 24).

17-20. After a period of time devoted to penance and prayer, St Paul made his
way to Jerusalem (cf. Acts 9:26-30) to see Cephas, that is, Peter. His stay of
two weeks is an important indication of Paul’s recognition of and veneration for
Peter, chosen as he had been as the foundation stone of the Church.

In subsequent generations, right down the centuries, Christians have shown their
love for Peter and his successors, traveling to Rome often at great personal effort
and sometimes, even, risk. “Catholic, apostolic, “Roman”! I want you to be very
Roman. And to be anxious to make your ‘path to Rome’, “videre Petrum” — to
see Peter (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 520). Solidarity with and veneration for the
Pope is, then, a clear, practical sign of good Christian spirit.

“James the Lord’s brother” (cf. notes on Mt 12:46-47 and 13:55) is, most com-
mentators think, James the Less (cf. Mk 15:40), also called the son of Alphaeus
(cf. Lk 6:15) and author of the letter which bears his name (cf. Jas 1:1).

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, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

3 posted on 10/08/2012 8:12:36 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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