Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pope on Saint Paul

The continuing Catechesis:

The Pauline concept of apostleship went "beyond that of the group of Twelve" explained the Holy Father. "It was characterised by three elements: the first was the fact of having seen the Lord, in other words of having encountered Him in a way that marked his life. ... Definitively then, it is the Lord Who confers the apostolate, not individual presumption. Apostles do not make themselves but are created so by the Lord". 

  The second characteristic is that of "having been sent. In fact, the Greek term 'apostolos' means envoy, ... the representative of a principal. ... Once again the idea emerges of an initiative arising from someone else, from God in Jesus Christ, to Whom one is duty-bound", of "a mission to be accomplished in His name, putting all personal interests aside".

   "Announcing the Gospel and the consequent founding of Churches" is the third requisite. "The tile of apostle", said Pope Benedict, "is not and cannot be a merely honorary title. It truly, even dramatically, involves the entire existence of the person concerned". 

  St. Paul also defined apostles as "servants of God, Whose grace acts in them", said the Pope. "A typical element of the true apostle ... is a form of identification between the Gospel and the evangeliser, both share the same destiny. Indeed no-one so much as Paul highlighted how announcing the cross of Christ is a 'stumbling block and foolishness' to which many react with misunderstanding and refusal. That happened then and it should be no surprise that the same thing happens today".

  "With the stoical philosophy of his time, Paul shared the idea of tenacious perseverance in all the difficulties he had to face; but he went beyond the merely human perspective by recalling ... God's love and Christ's. ... This is the certainty, the profound joy that guided the Apostle though all those events: nothing can separate us from the love of God, and this love is the real treasure of human life".

   "As we may see, St. Paul gave himself to the Gospel with all his life", said the Holy Father in conclusion. "He undertook his ministry with faithfulness and joy that he 'might by all means save some'. And though aware of his own relationship of paternity - even, indeed, of maternity - towards the Churches, his attitude to them was one of complete service, declaring: "I do not mean to imply that we lord it over your faith; rather, we are workers with you for your joy'. This remains the mission of all the apostles of Christ in all times: to be collaborators of true joy".