Reflection for Wednesday October 10, 2018: 27th Week of Ordinary Time.

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Authors
Butterfield, George
Issue Date
2018-10-10
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Essay
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en_US
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Abstract
The Apostle Paul was unique among the apostles. Unlike the Twelve who had walked and talked with Jesus for three years, Paul became an apostle after Jesus' ascension. He refers to himself in another passage as an apostle who was "untimely born." He did not doubt that he was an apostle; Jesus had appeared to him. Paul had not seen Jesus in the flesh but he saw him, nonetheless, and was commissioned to proclaim the Good News to the Gentiles. He could have had the attitude that he did not need anyone else's approval to fulfill his ministry but he did not think like that. He travelled to Jerusalem and presented the Good News that he preached to the original apostles so that everyone would "be on the same page." He did not want to be running in vain.|Running is Old Testament language for a prophet, a missionary, an apostle (which means, "one who is sent"). A prophet stands in the council of God, gazes upon the beauty of God, hears his voice, is commissioned to take God's word to the people, and then is sent on his mission. When he is sent, he runs. He is a missionary, an apostle, a runner. Jeremiah refers to false prophets who did not hear the voice of God and wasn't sent by him but ran anyway. In other words, they made up God's word as they went along. Paul is not so arrogant as to think that consulting with the other apostles is somehow a denial of his mission from Jesus. Thus, he meets with them so that they can know for sure that he has been entrusted with the same Gospel that they proclaimed, although their mission was to the Jews and his to the Gentiles. They recognized that the same grace working in them was working in him.|On the other hand, Paul also had no problem confronting those same apostles when he thought they were wrong. They believed, as he did, that the Gentiles did not have to keep the Mosaic regulations. They also believed that it was okay for a Jew to keep them but they, like the Gentiles, did not have to. Cephas, the Aramaic name for Peter, had been with Paul in Antioch. He associated with the Gentile Christians there, ate with them, and proclaimed the Gospel to them. However, when some Jewish Christians came to Antioch from Jerusalem, he withdrew from the Gentiles and stopped eating with them and mixing with them. Paul rebuked him for doing this. It was hypocrisy. Can a person rebuke a pope? Paul certainly did. It does not seem to me that he was nasty toward Peter but he told him that he was wrong. Popes sometimes do wrong things.|Paul sets a good example for us today. He is not so arrogant to think that he has Jesus' approval so he need not consult with the Church to receive the wisdom it has to offer. He is not like the Apostle E.F. in the movie, The Apostle, who baptizes himself and then commissions himself to be an apostle. He confers with the known leaders of the Church. He is also not afraid to criticize those same Church leaders, even a pope, when he thinks they are wrong. But he does it in a good, positive way. He wants only that the Good News of Jesus be lived and proclaimed authentically. This could help all of us as we navigate troubling times. We can criticize our leaders even as we treat them with respect.
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University Ministry, Creighton University.
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These reflections may not be sold or used commercially without permission. Personal or parish use is permitted.
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