Year C: 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Second Reading: based on St Paul's first letter to the Corinthians Ch. 15: 1-11
Because St Paul was not one of the original Twelve, he sometimes had problems convincing others of the genuine nature of his message. On several occasions in the course of his letters we read passages like today’s.
St Paul is anxious to ensure that his readers understand the basic facts of the Good News - that Jesus dies and was risen and that, although he had not been present on that first Easter Day, he knew what had happened and had the testimony of Cephas (Peter) - and all those who had seen the Lord before his Ascension.
Jesus’ appearance to St Paul himself was very different - and, like Peter in the Gospel and Isaiah in the first reading it is an encounter which sears itself into the memory. Having persecuted the Church and hence, according to Jesus, Jesus himself, Saul (as he was) had no reason nor right to expect a vision of Christ.
However, as in the Gospel and in the First Reading, God sees things that we cannot - and Paul is called to be a witness to the Good News in Gentile territory.
As contemporary disciples, we can have sympathy with St Paul. We too have not seen Jesus in the flesh - and yet we have a sense of call. We feel unworthy - and question God’s choice - our suitability for what He seems to ask of us.
This sense of unworthiness can be our safeguard. If we were too sure of our worthiness and qualification to be “God’s gift to humanity”, we might begin to believe that we did it all on our own strength. We are, in fact, “God’s gift to humanity” but only insofar as we realise where our gifts and strength come from. A wholesome sense of unworthiness - and a more than wholesome sense of dependence on God - will help us to witness to God in ways that, on our own, we could not begin to imagine... like Peter - like Isaiah - like Paul.
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