Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Daily Mass Readings, January 26, 2003
usccb ^

Posted on 01/26/2003 2:32:23 PM PST by JMJ333

January 26, 2003
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Psalm: Sunday Week 7 Reading I Responsorial Psalm Reading II Gospel

Reading I
Jon 3:1-5, 10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying:
"Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you."
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD's bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day's walk announcing,
"Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,"
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice
and teaches the humble his way.

R. Teach me your ways, O Lord.

Reading II
1 Cor 7:29-31

I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out.
From now on, let those having wives act as not having them,
those weeping as not weeping,
those rejoicing as not rejoicing,
those buying as not owning,
those using the world as not using it fully.
For the world in its present form is passing away.

Mk 1:14-20

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
"This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel."

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."
Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.

TOPICS: Activism; Catholic; Charismatic Christian; Current Events; Eastern Religions; Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Judaism; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Orthodox Christian; Other Christian; Prayer; Religion & Culture; Skeptics/Seekers; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: catholiclist; jonah; ninevah; nineveh
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-26 next last

1 posted on 01/26/2003 2:32:23 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

Daily Word:

From: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

The Excellence of Virginity

25-35. The Apostle now explains the excellence of virginity or celibacy (vv. 26ff) for love of God as compared with marriage. The Magisterium of the Church has explicitly spoken on the same lines (cf. Council of Trent, "De Sacrum Matrimonio", can. 10; Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 11).

He begins by saying that he has no commandment from the Lord on this matter (cf. note on 7:12-16; Mt 19-12) but he for his part recommends celibacy, and his advice carries weight because he is an Apostle chosen by the Lord in his mercy. The reasons why he makes this recommendation reduce to one, basically--the love of God: the unmarried person can dedicate himself or herself to God more fully than a married person can, who has to look after the family and is "divided" (v. 34). "This is the main purpose and primary reason for Christian virginity--to dedicate oneself exclusively to divine things, giving them all one's attention and love, thinking of Him constantly and consecrating oneself to Him completely, body and soul" (Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 5). This exclusive dedication to God will lead to a full and productive life because it enables a person to love others and devote himself or herself to them with great freedom and availability. Also, celibacy has an eschatological dimension: it is a special sign of heavenly delights (cf. Vatican II, "Perfectae Caritatis", 12), and points to the fact that the blessed in heaven live as angels (cf. Mt 22:30).

St Paul's references to marriage should be understood in the context in which he is writing (cf. note on 7:1-9). All he wants to make clear here is that, although celibacy is a higher state, marriage is not something bad: those who marry are not doing anything wrong (v. 28), nor is there any need for married people to live as celibates (vv. 3-5) or to separate (v. 27). However, only someone who acknowledges the great value that marriage has is in a position to appreciate celibacy as a gift of God. "Virginity or celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God not only does not contradict the dignity of marriage but presupposes it and confirms it. Marriage and virginity or celibacy are two ways of expressing and living the one mystery of the covenant of God with his people. When marriage is not esteemed, neither can consecrated virginity or celibacy exist; when human sexuality is not regarded as a great value given by the Creator, the renunciation of it for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven loses its meaning" (John Paul II, "Familiaris Consortio", 16)

29-31. In their letters, St Paul and the other Apostles frequently remind us that life is short (cf. Rom 13:11-14; 2 Pet 3:8; 1 Jn 2:15-17), in order to encourage us to make the very best use of our time to serve God, and others for his sake. "When I reflect on this, how well I understand St Paul's exclamation when he writes to the Corinthians, "tempus breve est" (1 Cor 7:29). How short indeed is the time of our passing through this world! For the true Christian these words ring deep down in his heart as a reproach to his lack of generosity, and as a constant invitation to be loyal. Brief indeed is our time for loving, for giving, for making atonement. It would be very wrong, therefore, for us to waste it, or to cast this treasure irresponsibly overboard. We must not squander this period of the world's history which God has entrusted to each one of us" (St J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 39).

A Christian, therefore, should always be detached from worldly things, and never let himself become the slave of anything or anyone (cf. 1 Cor 7:23; "Lumen Gentium", 42) but, instead, always have his sights on eternal life. "It is a great help towards this", St Teresa of Avila teaches, "if we keep a very constant care of the vanity of all things, and the rapidity with which they pass away, so that we may withdraw our affections from everything and fix them on what will last forever. This may seem to be a poor kind of help but it will have the effect of greatly fortifying the soul. With regard to little things, we must be very careful, as soon as we begin to be fond of them, to think no more about them and to turn our thoughts to God. His majesty will help us to do this" ("Way of Perfection", chap. X).

2 posted on 01/26/2003 2:36:38 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Daily Word (Gospel):

From: Mark 1:14-20

Jesus Begins to Preach and Calls His First Disciples

14-15. "The gospel of God": this expression is found in St Paul (Rom 1:1; 2 Cor 11:7; etc.) where it means the same as "the gospel of Jesus Christ" (2 Thess 1:8; etc.), thereby implying the divinity of Jesus Christ. The imminence of the Kingdom requires a genuine conversion of man to God (Mt 4:17; Mk 6: 12; etc.). The prophets had already spoken of the need for conversion and for Israel to abandon its evil ways (Jer 3:22; Is 30:15; Hos 14:2; etc.).

Both John the Baptist and Jesus and his Apostles insist on the need for conversion, the need to change one's attitude and conduct as a prerequisite for receiving the Kingdom of God. John Paul II underlines the importance of conversion for entry into the Kingdom of God: "Therefore, the Church professes and proclaims conversion. Conversion to God always consists in discovering his mercy, that is, in discovering that love which is patient and kind (cf. 1 Cor 13:4) as only the Creator and Father can be; the love to which the 'God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ' (2 Cor 1:3) is faithful to the uttermost consequences in the history of his covenant with man: even to the Cross and to the death and resurrection of the Son. Conversion to God is always the fruit of the 'rediscovery' of this Father, who is rich in mercy.

"Authentic knowledge of the God of mercy, the God of tender love, is a constant and inexhaustible source of conversion, not only as a momentary interior act but also as a permanent attitude, as a state of mind. Those who come to know God in this way, who 'see' him in this way, can live only in a state of being continually converted to him. They live, therefore, "in statu conversionis" and it is this state of conversion which marks out the most profound element of the pilgrimage of every man and woman on earth "in statu viatoris" (John Paul II, "Dives In Misericordia", 13).

16-20. In these verses the evangelist describes how Jesus called some of those who would later form part of the Apostolic College (3:16ff). From the start of his public ministry in Galilee the Messiah seeks co-workers to help him in his mission as Savior and Redeemer. He looks for them among people used to hard work, people for whom life is a struggle and whose life-style is plain. In human terms they are obviously at a disadvantage vis-a-vis many of those to whom they will preach; but this in no way prevents their self-surrender from being generous and free. The light lit in their hearts was enough to lead them to give up everything. A simple invitation to follow the Master was enough for them to put themselves completely at his disposal.

It is Jesus who chooses them: he interfered in the lives of the Apostles just as he interferes in ours, without seeking our permission: he is our Lord. Cf. note on Mt 4:18-22.

3 posted on 01/26/2003 2:40:12 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

Jesus and the Fisherman
Ernst Zimmerman

4 posted on 01/26/2003 2:46:08 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

Duccio di Buoninsegna

5 posted on 01/26/2003 2:50:55 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: *Catholic_list; father_elijah; nickcarraway; SMEDLEYBUTLER; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; attagirl; ...
If anyone would like on or off Salvation's ping list, please notify her via freepmail. :)
6 posted on 01/26/2003 2:53:05 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: *Catholic_list; father_elijah; nickcarraway; SMEDLEYBUTLER; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; attagirl; ...
If anyone would like on or off Salvation's ping list, please notify her via freepmail. :)
7 posted on 01/26/2003 2:54:50 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

hmm...sorry for the double ping.
8 posted on 01/26/2003 2:57:38 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

Catholic Forum

Feast day of St. Timothy

Also known as:



His father was a Greek gentile, his mother Eunice was Jewish. Converted to Christianity by Saint Paul around the year 47. Partner, assistant and close friend of Paul. Missionary. Head of the Church in Ephesus. Recipient of two canonical letters from Saint Paul. Martyred for opposing the worship of Dionysius.


stoned to death in 97


intestinal disorders, stomach diseases

Prayer to Saint Timothy

Dear Saint, well known for your gentleness, you were a most faithful disciple of Saint Paul, and like him traveled much to bring the Good News to all people. The Letters Paul wrote to you reveal your zeal and inspire us with confidence in you. You too were cast into prison and you too gave your life for Christ. So with confidence we dare to ask, please obtain relief for {name of sufferer}, if it be God's will.

9 posted on 01/26/2003 3:04:49 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

10 posted on 01/26/2003 3:12:27 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

11 posted on 01/26/2003 3:13:56 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: JMJ333
Oh, for Heaven's sake, you're excused.

Quick, before kick-off...Archbishop Rigali used the "s" word from the pulpit today. "SIN" He actually said Christ tells us to leave sin behind and follow Him.

I'm glad I went to the Cathedral today.
12 posted on 01/26/2003 3:25:47 PM PST by Desdemona
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: JMJ333
Subject: Father Dan's Homily for Sunday 1/26/03

Message: According to Mark's gospel, Jesus' first message was 'Reform your lives and believe in the good news.'

In sharp contrast, Jonah's message was bad news: "40 days more and Nineveh will be destroyed." But both messages amount to the same thing, with only a difference in emphasis. The bad news comes first, at least implicitly, then the good. The bad news is "If you keep on the way you are going now, God will destroy you.' The good news is 'If you turn around and follow God's way, He will spare you."

Jesus implied the first part by calling for repentance. Jonah didn't mention the last part, about being spared, in his message, because frankly, he hated the Ninevites because of the way they had treated the Israelites, during their captivity in Babylon, and didn't want them to repent and be spared. If you read on after the part we just heard, you will find out how Jonah reacted to God's repenting of the evil He had threatened.

This is the whole point of the short book of Jonah. It contains, under the cover of an amusing story, a powerful teaching about the Mercy of God, who is always ready to pardon anyone who repents. It presents the Ninevites as an example of how far God's mercy can reach when there is sincere repentance, and of Jonah as a counter example, i.e. of one who refused to forgive and show mercy to an enemy.

Ch 4, the last chapter, begins right after our reading with Jonah's reason why he acted as he did. Referring to God's change of heart when the people repented, it says:
"But this was greatly displeasing to Jonah and he became angry. "I beseech you, Lord," he prayed, "is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? This is why I fled to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, loath to punish."
Jonah knew this, but he didn't want the Ninevites to know it. So his preaching stopped short at, "In 40 days Nineveh will be destroyed.' No if, ands, or buts.

He gave them no choice, no hope. But apparently the Holy Spirit whispered the missing condition to that condemnation to the heart of the King and the people. The King said: "Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold His blazing wrath, so that we shall not perish." Then he and all the people repented with fasting and penance in sackcloth, and God spared them. This was not an exception to God's way of dealing with sinners, but the rule. The rule, whether expressed or only implied is "I will not the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live".

The rest of the chapter tells how God turned His attention to Jonah in order to win him over from His childish resentment. Jonah kept on grumbling against the reprieve God gave to Nineveh, and still hoped they would be destroyed. So he sat down outside the city waiting to see what would happen. Here I can do no better than quote the simple account of what followed: (I don't think you ever hear this part read in church.) Ch4 v6ff):

"And when the Lord God provided a gourd plant that grew up over Jonah's head, giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort, Jonah was very happy over the plant. But the next morning at dawn God sent a worm, which attacked the plant so that it withered.. And when the sun rose, God sent a burning east wind; and the sun beat upon Jonah's head till he became faint. Then he asked for death, saying, " I would be better off dead than alive."

"But God said to Jonah, "Have you reason to be angry over the plant?" "I have reason to be angry," Jonah answered, "angry enough to die." Then the Lord said, "You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor and which you did not raise; it came up in one night, and in one night it perished. And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left, not to mention the many cattle?" (End of book!)

What a picture this gives us of God's merciful heart! How ready He is to forgive anyone who repents; how he is willing to change his mind at the last minuet even at the risk of appearing foolish and inconsistent; how He is willing to let ignorance be an excuse from gilt; (This is the meaning of the Ninevites not being able to distinguish their right hand from their left.) and how he is concerned even for animals! I hope no one here is still trying to interpret this book of Jonah literally, as if it were a newspaper account of what actually happened. Many parts of the bible are intended to be eyewitness accounts of historical events. St. Luke explicitly makes this claim at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles. But there are other ways to teach moral and religious truths. Aesop's fables are a famous example of ancient Greek wisdom. And so the ancient Jewish people also had a rich tradition of story telling, and they used this gift in many places in their scriptures, sta!
rting with the teaching on creation in Genesis. And so the introduction to the book of Jonah in the NAB says: "This book is a didactic story with an important theological message." It is not a romance, not a thriller, not a mystery story, but a didactic or teaching story. The story is not important for its own sake. Who cares about the individuals mentioned in it, or the details of time and place? It is the moral teaching behind the scene that counts. There are two lessons.

If you ever find yourself guilty, if God Himself is threatening you with hell, if
He has already passed a final sentence on you, like He did for the Ninevites, don't despair! There is only one final sentence, and that is at the moment of death, or at the final judgment. Until then God will repent if you repent. Even though He didn't say so each time, the bottom line is implied in His words to Ezekiel: Ez18:23 "Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? Says the Lord GOD. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?"
If someone has hurt you, and you have condemned them, and now they have repented and received forgiveness from God, and come asking your forgiveness, you have no choice but to forgive. Otherwise, how could you honestly say the Lord's Prayer: "forgive us as we forgive others."

This does not mean you have to become a doormat for every one to walk over you. Forgiveness means only that you renounce any wall that keeps you from becoming friends. This does not cost you anything. You can say "I want to be your friend, but you still owe me x dollars."

13 posted on 01/26/2003 3:28:04 PM PST by fatima (Go Raiders Go)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Desdemona
Quick, before kick-off...Archbishop Rigali used the "s" word from the pulpit today. "SIN" He actually said Christ tells us to leave sin behind and follow Him.

Standing ovation!!!!!!

We have had a string of positives lately. hehehe :)

14 posted on 01/26/2003 3:29:48 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: fatima
Thank you again for your contribution! :)
15 posted on 01/26/2003 3:30:50 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

Prayer for Vocations to The Priesthood and Religious Life

O Lord, send workers for your harvest, so that the Gospel of your Only-Begotten Son may always be proclaimed and His sacrifice be everywhere renewed.

Look with favor upon your family, the Church, and ever increase her numbers. Enable her to lead her sons and daughters to the holiness to which they are called and to work for the salvation of others.

Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

16 posted on 01/26/2003 3:33:10 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

A continuation of Yesterday's feast day theme: Newman Reader

Sermon 9. St. Paul's Conversion Viewed in reference to His Office

"I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." 1 Cor. xv. 9, 10.

{95} [Note] TODAY we commemorate, not the whole history of St. Paul, nor his Martyrdom, but his wonderful Conversion. Every season of his life is full of wonders, and admits of a separate commemoration; which indeed we do make, whenever we read the Acts of the Apostles, or his Epistles. On this his day, however, that event is selected for remembrance, which was the beginning of his wonderful course; and we may profitably pursue (please God) the train of thought thus opened for us.

We cannot well forget the manner of his conversion. He was journeying to Damascus with authority from the chief priests to seize the Christians, and bring them to Jerusalem. He had sided with the persecuting party from their first act of violence, the martyrdom of {96} St. Stephen; and he continued foremost in a bad cause, with blind rage endeavouring to defeat what really was the work of Divine power and wisdom. In the midst of his fury he was struck down by a miracle, and converted to the faith he persecuted. Observe the circumstances of the case. When the blood of Stephen was shed, Saul, then a young man, was standing by, "consenting unto his death," and "kept the raiment of them that slew him." [Acts xxii. 20.] Two speeches are recorded of the Martyr in his last moments; one, in which he prayed that God would pardon his murderers,—the other his witness, that he saw the heavens opened, and Jesus on God's right hand. His prayer was wonderfully answered. Stephen saw his Saviour; the next vision of that Saviour to mortal man was vouchsafed to that very young man, even Saul, who shared in his murder and his intercession.

Strange indeed it was; and what would have been St. Stephen's thoughts could he have known it! The prayers of righteous men avail much. The first Martyr had power with God to raise up the greatest Apostle. Such was the honour put upon the first-fruits of those sufferings upon which the Church was entering. Thus from the beginning the blood of the Martyrs was the seed of the Church. Stephen, one man, was put to death for saying that the Jewish people were to have exclusive privileges no longer; but from his very grave rose the favoured instrument by whom the thousands and ten thousands of the Gentiles were brought to the knowledge of the Truth! {97}

1. Herein then, first, is St. Paul's conversion memorable; that it was a triumph over the enemy. When Almighty God would convert the world, opening the door of faith to the Gentiles, who was the chosen preacher of His mercy? Not one of Christ's first followers. To show His power, He put forth His hand into the very midst of the persecutors of His Son, and seized upon the most strenuous among them. The prayer of a dying man is the token and occasion of that triumph which He had reserved for Himself. His strength is made perfect in weakness. As of old, He broke the yoke of His people's burden, the staff of their shoulder, the rod of their oppressor [Isa. ix. 4.]. Saul made furiously for Damascus, but the Lord Almighty "knew his abode, and his going out and coming in, and his rage against Him;" and "because his rage against Him, and his tumult, came up before Him," therefore, as in Sennacherib's case, though in a far different way, He "put His hook in his nose, and His bridle in his lips, and turned him back by the way by which he came." [Isa. xxxvii. 28, 29.] He "spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly," [Col. ii. 15.] triumphing over the serpent's head while his heel was wounded. Saul, the persecutor, was converted, and preached Christ in the synagogues.

2. In the next place, St. Paul's conversion may be considered as a suitable introduction to the office he was called to execute in God's providence. I have said it was a triumph over the enemies of Christ; but it was also an expressive emblem of the nature of {98} God's general dealings with the race of man. What are we all but rebels against God, and enemies of the Truth? what were the Gentiles in particular at that time, but "alienated" from Him, "and enemies in their mind by wicked works?" [Col. i. 21.] Who then could so appropriately fulfil the purpose of Him who came to call sinners to repentance, as one who esteemed himself the least of the Apostles, that was not meet to be called an Apostle, because he had persecuted the Church of God? When Almighty God in His infinite mercy purposed to form a people to Himself out of the heathen, as vessels for glory, first He chose the instrument of this His purpose as a brand from the burning, to be a type of the rest. There is a parallel to this order of Providence in the Old Testament. The Jews were bid to look unto the rock whence they were hewn [Isa. li. 1.]. Who was the especial Patriarch of their nation?—Jacob. Abraham himself, indeed, had been called and blessed by God's mere grace. Yet Abraham had remarkable faith. Jacob, however, the immediate and peculiar Patriarch of the Jewish race, is represented in the character of a sinner, pardoned and reclaimed by Divine mercy, a wanderer exalted to be the father of a great nation. Now I am not venturing to describe him as he really was, but as he is represented to us; not personally, but in that particular point of view in which the sacred history has placed him; not as an individual, but as he is typically, or in the way of doctrine. There is no mistaking the marks of his character and fortunes in the history, designedly {99} (as it would seem) recorded to humble Jewish pride. He makes his own confession, as St. Paul afterwards: "I am not worthy of the least of all Thy mercies." [Gen. xxxii. 10.] Every year, too, the Israelites were bid to bring their offering, and avow before God, that "a Syrian ready to perish was their father." [Deut. xxvi. 5.] Such as was the father, such (it was reasonable to suppose) would be the descendants. None would be "greater than their father Jacob," [John iv. 12.] for whose sake the nation was blest.

In like manner St. Paul is, in one way of viewing the Dispensation, the spiritual father of the Gentiles; and in the history of his sin and its most gracious forgiveness, he exemplifies far more than his brother Apostles his own Gospel; that we are all guilty before God, and can be saved only by His free bounty. In his own words, "for this cause obtained he mercy, that in him first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting." [1 Tim. i. 16.]

3. And, in the next place, St. Paul's previous course of life rendered him, perhaps, after his conversion, more fit an instrument of God's purposes towards the Gentiles, as well as a more striking specimen of it. Here it is necessary to speak with caution. We know that, whatever were St. Paul's successes in the propagation of the Gospel, they were in their source and nature not his, but through "the grace of God which was with him." Still, God makes use of human means, and it is allowable to inquire reverently what these were, and {100} why St. Paul was employed to convert the Heathen world rather than St. James the Less, or St. John. Doubtless his intellectual endowments and acquirements were among the circumstances which fitted him for his office. Yet, may it not be supposed that there was something in his previous religious history which especially disciplined him to be "all things to all men?" Nothing is so difficult as to enter into the characters and feelings of men who have been brought under a system of religion different from our own; and to discern how they may be most forcibly and profitably addressed, in order to win them over to the reception of Divine truths, of which they are at present ignorant. Now St. Paul had had experience in his own case, of a state of mind very different from that which belonged to him as an Apostle. Though he had never been polluted with Heathen immorality and profaneness, he had entertained views and sentiments very far from Christian, and had experienced a conversion to which the other Apostles (as far as we know) were strangers. I am far indeed from meaning that there is aught favourable to a man's after religion in an actual unsettlement of principle, in his lapsing into infidelity, and then returning again to religious belief. This was not St. Paul's case; he underwent no radical change of religious principle. Much less would I give countenance to the notion, that a previous immoral life is other than a grievous permanent hindrance and a curse to a man, after he has turned to God. Such considerations, however, are out of place, in speaking of St. Paul. What I mean is, that his awful rashness and blindness, {101} his self-confident, headstrong, cruel rage against the worshippers of the true Messiah, then his strange conversion, then the length of time that elapsed before his solemn ordination, during which he was left to meditate in private on all that had happened, and to anticipate the future,—all this constituted a peculiar preparation for the office of preaching to a lost world, dead in sin. It gave him an extended insight, on the one hand, into the ways and designs of Providence, and, on the other hand, into the workings of sin in the human heart, and the various modes of thinking in which the mind is actually trained. It taught him not to despair of the worst sinners, to be sharp-sighted in detecting the sparks of faith amid corrupt habits of life, and to enter into the various temptations to which human nature is exposed. It wrought in him a profound humility, which disposed him (if we may say so) to bear meekly the abundance of the revelations given him; and it imparted to him a practical wisdom how to apply them to the conversion of others, so as to be weak with the weak, and strong with the strong, to bear their burdens, to instruct and encourage them, to "strengthen his brethren," to rejoice and weep with them; in a word, to be an earthy Paraclete, the comforter, help, and guide of his brethren. It gave him to know in some good measure the hearts of men; an attribute (in its fulness) belonging to God alone, and possessed by Him in union with perfect purity from all sin; but which in us can scarcely exist without our own melancholy experience, in some degree, of moral evil in ourselves, since the innocent (it is their {102} privilege) have not eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

4. Lastly, to guard against misconception of these last remarks, I must speak distinctly on a part of the subject only touched upon hitherto, viz. on St. Paul's spiritual state before his conversion. For, in spite of what has been said by way of caution, perhaps I may still be supposed to warrant the maxim sometimes maintained, that the greater sinner makes the greater saint.

Now, observe, I do not allege that St. Paul's previous sins made him a more spiritual Christian afterwards, but rendered him more fitted for a particular purpose in God's providence,—more fitted, when converted, to reclaim others; just as a knowledge of languages (whether divinely or humanly acquired) fits a man for the office of missionary, without tending in any degree to make him a better man. I merely say, that if we take two men equally advanced in faith and holiness, that one of the two would preach to a variety of men with the greater success who had the greater experience in his own religious history of temptation, the war of flesh and spirit, sin, and victory over sin; though, at the same time, at first sight it is of course unlikely that he who had experienced all these changes of mind should be equal in faith and obedience to the other who had served God from a child.

But, in the next place, let us observe, how very far St. Paul's conversion is, in a matter of fact, from holding out any encouragement to those who live in sin, or any self-satisfaction to those who have lived in it; as if {103} their present or former disobedience could be a gain to them.

Why was mercy shown to Saul the persecutor; he himself gives us the reason, which we may safely make use of. "I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." [1 Tim. i. 12, 13.] And why was he "enabled" to preach the Gospel? "Because Christ counted him faithful." We have here the reason more clearly stated even than in Abraham's case, who was honoured with special Divine revelations, and promised a name on the earth, because God "knew him, that he would command his children and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." [Gen. xviii. 19.] Saul was ever faithful, according to his notion of "the way of the Lord." Doubtless he sinned deeply and grievously in persecuting the followers of Christ. Had he known the Holy Scriptures, he never would have done so; he would have recognised Jesus to be the promised Saviour, as Simeon and Anna had, from the first. But he was bred up in a human school, and paid more attention to the writings of men than to the Word of God. Still, observe, he differed from other enemies of Christ in this, that he kept a clear conscience, and habitually obeyed God according to his knowledge. God speaks to us in two ways, in our hearts and in His Word. The latter and clearer of these informants St. Paul knew little of; the former he could not but know in his measure (for it was within him), and he obeyed it. That inward voice was but feeble, mixed up and obscured with human feelings and human traditions; so that what his conscience told him {104} to do, was but partially true, and in part was wrong. Yet still, believing it to speak God's will, he deferred to it, acting as he did afterwards when he "was not disobedient to the heavenly vision," which informed him Jesus was the Christ [Acts xxvi. 19.]. Hear his own account of himself:—"I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day." "After the most straitest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee." "Touching the righteousness which is in the Law, blameless." [Acts xxiii. 1; xxvi. 5. Phil. iii. 6.] Here is no ease, no self-indulgent habits, no wilful sin against the light,—nay, I will say, no pride. That is though he was doubtless influenced by much sinful self-confidence in his violent and bigoted hatred of the Christians, and though (as well as even the best of us) he was doubtless liable to the occasional temptations and defilements of pride, yet, taking pride to mean, open rebellion against God, warring against God's authority, setting up reason against God, this he had not. He "verily thought within himself that he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." Turn to the case of Jews and Gentiles who remained unconverted, and you will see the difference between them and him. Think of the hypocritical Pharisees, who professed to be saints, and were sinners; "full of extortion, excess, and uncleanness;" [Matt. xxiii. 25, 27.] believing Jesus to be the Christ, but not confessing Him, as "loving the praise of men more than the praise of God." [John xii. 43.] St. Paul himself gives us an account of them in the second chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. Can it be made to apply to his own previous state? Was the {105} name of God blasphemed among the Gentiles through him?—On the other hand, the Gentile reasoners sought a vain wisdom [1 Cor. i. 22.]. These were they who despised religion and practical morality as common matters, unworthy the occupation of a refined and cultivated intellect. "Some mocked, others said, We will hear thee again of this matter." [Acts xvii. 32.] They prided themselves on being above vulgar prejudices, on being indifferent to the traditions afloat in the world about another life,—on regarding all religions as equally true and equally false. Such a hard, vain-glorious temper our Lord solemnly condemns, when He says to the Church at Laodicea, "I would thou wert cold or hot."

The Pharisees, then, were breakers of the Law; the Gentile reasoners and statesmen were infidels. Both were proud, both despised the voice of conscience. We see, then, from this review, the kind of sin which God pities and pardons. All sin, indeed, when repented of, He will put away; but pride hardens the heart against repentance, and sensuality debases it to a brutal nature. The Holy Spirit is quenched by open transgressions of conscience and by contempt of His authority. But, when men err in ignorance, following closely their own notions of right and wrong, though these notions are mistaken,—great as is their sin, if they might have possessed themselves of truer notions (and very great as was St. Paul's sin, because he certainly might have learned from the Old Testament far clearer and diviner doctrine than the tradition of the Pharisees),—yet such men are not left by the God of all grace. God leads them on to the light {106} in spite of their errors in faith, if they continue strictly to obey what they believe to be His will. And, to declare this comfortable truth to us, St. Paul was thus carried on by the providence of God, and brought into the light by a miracle; that we may learn, by a memorable instance of His grace, what He ever does, though He does not in ordinary cases thus declare it openly to the world.

Who has not felt a fear lest he be wandering from the true doctrine of Christ? Let him cherish and obey the holy light of conscience within him, as Saul did; let him carefully study the Scriptures, as Saul did not; and the God who had mercy even on the persecutor of His saints, will assuredly shed His grace upon him, and bring him into the truth as it is in Jesus.

17 posted on 01/26/2003 3:38:45 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

Prayer for Christendom

Almighty God, through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, and of every saint, we humbly beseech thee to deliver us from atheism and all its works, and in thy kind mercy to restore unity of heart and mind to all Christians, that they may serve Thee henceforth in thanksgiving for Christendom regained.

Let us also pray that we may have a return of the ringing of the Bells at the Consecration of the Mass.


18 posted on 01/26/2003 3:41:20 PM PST by JMJ333
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: JMJ333
Father Dan gives us this for our little site every Sunday and Steve L. posts for us,your welcome.
19 posted on 01/26/2003 4:17:43 PM PST by fatima (Go Raiders Go)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: JMJ333; Salvation
Does anyone else find it erie to realize that Ninevah is smack in the middle of Iraq today? This Bible reading really affected me yesterday, and I had to look it up. I don't knlw what to think, except that I do know that if Saddam Hussein and his followers behaved like the Ninevites in this verse, the whole world would forgive them and we would find peace. Don't think that's going to happen, however. Am I making too much of this?
20 posted on 01/27/2003 9:37:17 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-26 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson