Lessons from Paul on how to write a Curriculum Vitae
Paul must have started the Galatian community on his early missionary trip. Other missionaries followed who included in their catechesis the need to follow Jewish law. Paul writes after this to tell the Galatians that we do not need the law but rather Jesus has saved us.
Today’s reading shows us Paul presenting to the Galatians his credentials, as it were. He was a sincere, zealous Jew, and, yes, he persecuted the Christians. He encountered Christ and his life was changed. True, he is not one of the Twelve but he knew Peter and James, and had spent time with them. By God’s grace he was called to bring the Good News to the Gentiles. Indeed, If you have heard bad things about me, know that the communities in Judea give God praise because a former persecutor is now a preacher of the faith that he had tried to destroy.
When I completed my junior year of college in the seminary I returned home for a month before entering the novitiate. A classmate accompanied me and we visited his aunt and uncle in Washington. His uncle had just retired from a teaching career in the school of nursing at Georgetown University. He gave us wonderful tour of the campus and an especially thorough tour of the science labs. I remember looking through an electron microscope, something I had only read about in physics class. That night I became very sad. I was aware that I had not invested myself in my studies and felt I had wasted a wonderful opportunity. I was being set on fire by a man who loved science and poured his knowledge out for his students so they would be prepared for important work. But I could not change my past two mediocre years of college.
My ‘conversion’ is insignificant compared to St. Paul’s. A new vision from a day with a charismatic teacher did motivate me to want to change, a day I have never forgotten. I can’t say that I changed easily or even very much. The things that made me less than a good student remain always to be dealt with.
Karl Rahner describes the event of grace as living as we would like to live, combating our own egoism and continual temptation to inner despair. When we experience laughter or tears, bear responsibility, break through egoism in our lives with others; where one hopes against hope, faces the shallowness and stupidity of the daily rush and bustle with humor and patience, refusing to become embittered; where someone learns to be silent and in this inner silence lets the evil in his heart die rather than spread outward. This is the event of grace.
Like Paul we carry our baggage. We need the ‘Arabias’ where we can reflect on what grace is doing. There will be Athens of failure, and the surprise of new best friends in the Corinths of our lives. Let us write our letters and do our daily work. The one who began the good work in us will see it to completion. God’s grace is at work, his presence with us in our adventures, enjoying with us what God wants us to enjoy.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.