Day 343: God Uses Paul's Past

Acts 22 1-5 As a Pharisee, Paul had received a solid education in the Law from a well-respected rabbi, Gamaliel, and used his personal history as an appeal for credibility with the orthodox Jews. As a Christian, Paul still fulfilled his duties as a Roman citizen and did not denounce his right to justice. (CCC 2245)

Ch 22:28 One did not have to be a Roman citizen from birth, as Paul was; citizenship could be purchased or received as an honor for service to the empire. 

2 Corinthians 9:1-15 Almsgiving has always been an important component of Christian life. Paul urged the Corinthians, who were relatively affluent, to contribute generously to the collection. The community there had made some kind of verbal commitment to the collection that Paul had used in gathering support in other churches. He did not want them to contribute out of guilt or coercion but rather out of love in response to the blessings they had received from God and as an act of trust in his divine providence. (CCC 1070-1072, 1082-1083, 2636-2637)

Ch 9:6-7 Just as the volume of a harvest is normally proportionate to how much was planted, so too the fruits of holiness in terms of spreading the Gospel will also be in proportion to a person’s generosity. 

God loves a cheerful giver: An important part of the spirit of service is that it be done with joyful willingness. (CCC 2447)

Ch 10:1-12 Charged by the false apostles with being weak because of his gentle and humble nature, Paul assured the Christians of the seriousness of his conviction. He was much more assertive in writing than he was in speech, but his personal demeanor was being judged by worldly standards in which aggression was seen as strength and power. Paul’s concern was for building up the Church in a spirit of truth and love rather than winning admiration or popularity. His meekness was a result of his efforts to imitate the charity of Christ, who spoke harshly only as a last resort. (CCC 1439, 1657, 2227)

Ch 10:13-18 Paul responded to the accusations of pride. He was happy to have been used as an instrument for the Gospel, but any good he accomplished was only through the power of Christ working through him. The false teachers in Corinth tried to outdo one another in popularity and tried to claim credit for the growth of the Church there, but Paul asserted his role as the spiritual father of the community. (CCC 1460, 1866, 2481, 2514, 2540)

Ch 11:1-33 Concerned about the Christians in Corinth who were swayed by the false apostles, Paul was highly critical of these deceitful teachers and questioned their motives. He appealed to his own practice of not receiving financial support from the Corinthians. Apologizing for boasting and appearing foolish, he stated that he was a Jewish convert like these false teachers but a far better “servant of Christ” because of the many abuses and hardships he had sustained in the course of preaching the Gospel. Paul serves Christ by serving all, which itself is an imitation of Christ. (CCC 786, 1551, 1570)

Ch 11:2 Betrothed you to Christ: Like a father solicitous for his virgin daughter, Paul guarded the purity of the Corinthian community that was already committed to Christ the Bridegroom. (CCC 505, 796)

Ch 11:4 Another Jesus: A different version of Christ than that which Paul and the other Apostles had preached. Some scholars theorize from the evidence that these false teachers were Jewish converts who claimed that Gentile converts to Christianity had to abide by traditional Jewish laws, including circumcision and dietary restrictions. (CCC 1972)

Ch 11:24-25 The Jewish authorities could sentence the guilty party in a dispute to as many as forty lashes with a whip (cf. Dt 25:1-3). In practice, they usually gave thirty-nine lashes to ensure that they did not exceed the legal limit.

Beaten with rods: This Roman method of punishing an offender was used on those who were not Roman citizens. Paul suffered such a beating even though he was a citizen, a fact that could have had severe ramifications for the authorities who ordered this punishment (cf. Acts 16:22). Christ calls upon us to pray for those who persecute us for his name’s sake. (CCC 2303)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. We thank you for this day. Thank you so much for your Word. Thank you for the opportunity to be reminded, and that’s the key Lord. So often we forget who you are. We forget who we are in your name. Lord God, we also forget that you are present to us and that you desire us to be close to your heart and regardless of our circumstances, regardless of our situations, regardless of the season of our life whether that’s an early season and we have so much ahead of us, a midday season where we’re kind of just in the doldrums, or at the end, the twilight of our lives. Lord God, you are present. You are active. You are doing something now in us. In whatever circumstance, in whatever situation, and in whatever season we are, you are doing something in us now. So please, Lord God, help us to give you permission. Help us to allow you to do what it is you are trying to accomplish in us this day, this moment, this situation, this circumstance, this season, in this most holy name of Jesus. Amen.”