The Courage of St. Paul

“But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.” (Galatians 2:11-12)

Today, we see that there was something God saw in Paul which would turn out to become such a useful resource for the spread of the Gospel; his courage to stand up for the truth regardless of who is involved.

Paul was such a fearless and straight forward person. He was not afraid to challenge Peter as well as Barnabas about their insincerity regarding their treatment of the Gentiles. Paul had to oppose Peter to his face because he ate with the Gentiles only to distance himself from them later for fear of the circumcision party. According to Paul, this two-faced behaviour of Peter was not helping the spread of the Gospel at all.

Even to this day, the greatest obstacle to the promotion of the Christian Faith is that gap we often see between what we preach and what we do. Sometimes, God raises men like St. Paul to really challenge us with the truth no matter how painful so that by walking the talk, the church becomes the better for it. We must be real. Pretence (or rather, unholy diplomacy if you like) is a virus that we all need to delete out of our lives. Even as laypersons, we must be bold enough to speak the truth to our ministers.

On the other hand, we also need the grace of Peter’s personality to listen and take correction. Peter did not have a problem with owning up to his faults. After he denied Jesus Christ thrice and heard the cock crow as Jesus predicted, Peter wept and begged forgiveness from God. It is one thing to be corrected but it takes special grace to accept correction.

In our Gospel passage today, we are told that one of Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. We are not told who this disciple is but one thing that is clear is that this disciple was not an arrogant person. It takes humility to ask to be taught how to do something. Can we be humble enough to admit our ignorance and ask to be taught? Or would we rather assume we know it all and refuse to be corrected?

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me the courage to be real and say the truth at all times. Amen.

Bible Study: Galatians 2:1-2.7-14, Psalm 117:1-2 and Luke 11:1-4).

Fr. Abu

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