Daily Office Readings for Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Epiphany: Year 1
“We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 2:15 and 16)
This is where I fall out with Paul. His language is tainted with a bias against non-Jews, even though he proclaims taking the Gospel to the Gentiles is his God-given call. Additionally, he apparently does not care for Peter and makes it known as publically as he can. How Christ-like is that?
So for me, there are three things here to choose from. There is our biological make-up; there is the works we can do, that is, what we can achieve for ourselves; and, there is faith, pure and simple.
Insofar as genetics are concerned John the Baptist makes it very clear when many Pharisees and Sadducees came to him for Baptism. He must have felt their Abrahamic ancestral arrogance and he said to them, “Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.” (Matthew 3:9) God made all people, and all people are precious in God’s sight.
What we achieve, from theological understanding to market place commerce, can, if we are not careful, do us more harm than good. Paul himself as well as many religious zealots (of all faiths) have done horrible things in the Name of God. God works from love and charity. Any violent act to another human, with the possible exception of the defense of self and community, is sinful in God’s sight. As far as commerce is concerned, we would do well to remember the story of the rich young man (Mathew 19), or the rich ruler (Luke 18). The wealthy person asked about entering the kingdom of heaven. Jesus told him that putting a check in each block of the law won’t do it if one’s heart is not charitable. He said further, sell what you have and give to the poor. And most importantly, Jesus invites him to “come and follow me.” We could have had his name had he let go of his ego an accepted the invitation into the kingdom when invited.
Neither ancestry nor personal achievements will gain us any advancement towards God if we are not faithful to God. This faith must be love based and charitable. We all know the stories handed down through the prophets and saints. All we have to do is listen and heed.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John