June 30, 2021
At the weekly General Audience, Pope Francis reflects on the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians, and says God’s grace turned sinful Saul into the Apostle to the Gentiles.
By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis held the Wednesday General Audience in the San Damaso Courtyard, and continued his catechesis on the letters of St. Paul.
The Pope focused his reflections on the Letter to the Galatians and on Paul’s self-identification as a true apostle.
He noted that Paul lays out his intent clearly, which is to “reiterate the novelty of the Gospel, which the Galatians have received through his preaching, to build the true identity on which to base their existence.”
Getting to the heart of the problem
The Pope said St. Paul puts aside the empty arguments of his detractors and “flies high” by showing the path to overcome conflicts in the community.
Only near the end of his letter, noted the Pope, does Paul reveal that the core of his argumentation is the question of whether or not circumcision is required for all Christians.
“Paul chooses to go deeper, because what is at stake is the truth of the Gospel and the freedom of Christians, which is an integral part of it.”
He goes to the heart of the problem that has arisen in the Galatian community, rather than seeking a quick and easy solution.
Boasting of God’s mercy
Pope Francis went on to recall Paul’s assertion that he was called to be an apostle by God, and not by his own merit.
Paul even boasted that he had progressed far beyond others in Judaism, highlighting that he had been a defender of his “ancestral traditions” and ferociously persecuted the Church.
The Pope said St. Paul boasts of his previous way of life only to underline the greatness of the mercy of God.
“Paul thus highlights the truth of his vocation through the striking contrast that had been created in his life: from being a persecutor of Christians for not observing the traditions and the law, he was called to become an apostle to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Using the weak and sinful
Despite Paul’s checkered past, God chose to reveal His Risen Son to him, so that he might preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.
“How inscrutable are the ways of the Lord!” said the Pope. “We experience this every day, but especially if we think back to the times when the Lord called us.”
Pope Francis urged everyone never to forget the moment when Jesus entered our lives, keeping “fixed in our hearts and minds that encounter with grace, when God changed our existence.”
And he marveled at how often God makes use of sinners and the weak to manifest His will.
“And yet, none of this happens by chance, because everything has been prepared in God’s plan. He weaves our history and, if we correspond with trust to His plan of salvation, we realize it.”
God’s grace makes us servants of the Gospel
Finally, Pope Francis recalled that when God calls He also instills us with a mission, which we must prepare for diligently.
“Let us allow ourselves to be led by this awareness: the primacy of grace transforms existence and makes it worthy of being placed at the service of the Gospel.”