Saved from something, saved for something – The conversion of St Paul, the Apostle – Mark 16:15-18
Read also these three articles https://www.pottypadre.com/the-rest-as-they-say-is-history/
Most Christians consider Christ’s encounter with Paul to be a prototype of Christian conversion, generally from an immoral to a moral life. But that wasn’t Saul’s conversion at all. His was a conversion from a false notion of a holy life to a true notion. Remember that Paul was a zealous follower of God.
Born a Jew in the Roman city of Tarsus, in modern-day Turkey. He had come down to Jerusalem to study at the feet of the greatest rabbi of the age, Gamaliel. He was a member of the Sanhedrin and one of the most respected Pharisees and Doctors of the Law of his era. The Pharisees had enumerated 613 laws found within the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Saul would have studied each of these laws carefully under him.
Though he learned the trade of a tent maker, he was a man who had great religious zeal. As a young man, Paul discovered a flourishing Christian community and at once became its bitter opponent. He believed that this trouble-making new sect should be stamped out, its adherents punished. He made it his mission to try to stomp out the heretical sect that was dividing Judaism and blasphemously claiming that a carpenter from Nazareth not only was the Messiah. We are told in Acts chapter 8 that when St Stephen impugned Law and temple, Paul, who although did not a participator in the stoning of Stephen, approved of it.
Now, breathing threats of slaughter against the disciples of Jesus, Paul hurried to Damascus when the grace of God effected his conversion. Saint Paul’s entire life can be explained in terms of one experience; his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul would have been the least person we would expect to become a believer but the ways of God are not like ours. No one is useless and unusable with God. Our past is inconsequential in Christ. When we receive the new life Christ gives, we are forgiven and we totally made new in him.
Paul’s history was very grim and evil but he didn’t let that describe him. He evolved and learnt from it, instead, and was turned into an unimaginable man of Faith. Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an apostle, and chosen to be one of the principal instruments of God in the conversion of the world.
It is commonly thought that God renamed Saul after his conversion and that “Saul” indicates the persecutor, while “Paul” refers to the changed, Christian man. However, in Acts 9:17, Ananias refers to him as Saul after his conversion. Later in Acts 13:2, the Holy Spirit addresses him as Saul before he sets off on his first missionary trip. In fact, he is referred to as Saul 11 times after his conversion. It is when he sets out from Jerusalem in Acts 13:13 that the gospel author Luke begins to refer to him as Paul which is in fact, the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Saul.” We must learn that the spiritual life is not a moment but a journey. Saul never ‘became’ Paul in a flash, he had to learn how to along the way.
Are you a family member? Memorial of St Francis De Sales – Mark 3:31-35
Every year on Good Friday we attend services in large numbers. The ‘faithful’ who may not be very faithful the whole year round will not miss the service on this day. Sadly, for many, Good Friday is a check box ticked. What we have never seen perhaps is someone break down during the proclamation of the Lord’s passion. Such a sight would be understandable at a funeral of a loved one prompting one to ask the mourner, “are you a member of the family?” That’s a question we can ask ourselves today when we think of Jesus; are we a member of his family?
The text of today must be seen in the larger context of the rejection of Jesus in Galilee 3:7-6:6. This rejection comes from a number of quarters; the Jewish leaders, the disciples of John the Baptist, the people and even His own family. We know that his family tried to “restrain him” (3:21) thinking that Jesus was out of His mind.
Look at the scriptures and you realise that the brothers of Jesus had their moments when they were not supportive of His ministry (John 7:5). It is only after his resurrection that James, the brother of Our Lord became an important person in the early church (Acts 12:17; 15:3; 21:17-26; Galatians 1:19—2:14). He was a leader in the Jerusalem church, and possibly the first bishop of Jerusalem.
In the Gospel of today we are told that his mother and brothers are ‘standing outside’; they have come to meet him. There is a crowd of people that have gathered around the Lord and someone brings the news that his relatives are waiting “outside.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” (v. 33) asks Jesus? While this may sound disrespectful, it is not the case. Jesus does not ask this question to exclude his mother and brothers, but rather to set the stage for expanding the concept of family to include all those who do the will of God.
We should note that Jesus’ family is described twice as being on the “outside”; they are “outsiders”. By implication, those sitting in a circle with Jesus are on the “inside”; they are the “insiders”. What Jesus is clearly saying is that being on the “inside” is not just a question of location, but of relationship. That relationship is not by blood, but by identification with the Way of Jesus.
A question that might arise from this passage and one that might disturb us is the status of Jesus’ mother, Mary. Was she an ‘outsider’? The answer is an unequivocal ‘No‘. When reading this or any other text we need to read it in the larger context of the Gospels. We know from Luke’s gospel that when invited by the angel to be the mother of Jesus, Mary gave an unconditional ‘Yes’. This was her total surrender to the will of God. On one occasion, when Mary was praised as blessed and privileged for having a Son like Jesus, Jesus replied: No, blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it. (Luke 11:27-28). Mary is on the “inside”, not because she was the mother of Jesus, but because of her total identifying with his mission and being with him to the very end.
When hate takes over – Monday, 3rd Week in ordinary time – Mark 3:22-30
Do also find another article on the same Gospel by clicking this link https://www.pottypadre.com/rejection-abounds-monday-3rd-week-in-ordinary-time-mark-322-30/
While great multitudes have been following Jesus, Our Lord has been facing rejection from people of his own home town and among his own relatives. Either out of concern for their own family name or out of genuine concern for Jesus, they come to restrain him (3:21) for they heard people say that “he has gone out of his mind.” Sin
When an acquaintance misunderstands you, the sting is felt but when someone you love dearly, someone close to your heart; a relative or best friend misunderstands you, then that rips your heart out. Much before Our Lord felt the 39 lashes or the nails that tore through his hands and feet, he felt the pain of rejection. In all of this, it is Jesus who is understanding, Jesus who is patient and Jesus who loves. The text of today is a case in point.
We are told that scribes have come down from Jerusalem. They have already had a difference of opinion with Jesus (Mark 2:6). They question his methodology of ministry (2: 16) when he eats with sinners. The scribes would by now be well aware of the Pharisees and the Herodians who had plotted to destroy Jesus. Enemies, make strange bed fellows!
So far, their angst with Jesus was merely a muttering in their heart (2:6) and a clarification sought (2:16) but in today’s Gospel they have given up tiptoeing around egg shells and lay their rancor out in the open, “He has Beelzebub and by the rulers of demons he casts out demons.” (3:22). To read about who Beelzebub is, go to https://www.pottypadre.com/rejection-abounds-monday-3rd-week-in-ordinary-time-mark-322-30/
I have seen this method of hate being employed so often. Shoot any and every accusation, even a bizarre one in the air and hope that something gets shot and dies. Of all the accusations they threw at Jesus, this was by far the most ridiculous. But then again think of those who dislike you immensely; it is they that throw the most ridiculous accusations knowing that popular opinion might get seized up in the moment and fiction becomes truth.
Our Lord could have called brimstone from heaven and burnt his accusers to cinder. Instead, he opens a channel of discussion. He is not negotiating terms of peace so that he may issue some sort of ‘apology’ and fall in line with mainstream rabbinic behaviour; rather he sits down to reason with his detractors. We are told, “he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables.” It is as if Our Lord has taken the level of discussion to the simplest stages of communication rather than throw lofty theology at them and make them feel like novices that rolled out of a small-town synagogue. There is sensitivity in his approach and great love in his communication. This was not a lecture that he gave but a reasoning in the faith.
Yet his teaching, practical and logical, has indeed a caveat. While one is free to express one’s views, the framework of those views must be respectful. One can’t give into any lose talk without the consequences that come with it. Those who hold constitutional posts in our nation or are appointed to high office can be disagreed with but false accusations and name calling can have you spend some rather uncomfortable nights in prison.
Swept away by their personal dislike for our Lord, the scribes have blasphemed against the Holy Spirt. It is the Holy Spirit that dwelt in Our Lord. Hate had blinded the scribes and now forgiveness will be deprived to them forever.
There is a lesson for us in this; when we find ourselves consumed by hate and anger, we simply give vent to words that slip between our lips. Apologies, no matter how sincerely expressed, cannot mend a broken heart.
½ Kg Pork
1 inch piece ginger
1 full pod of garlic
½ tea spoon turmeric
½ tea spoon ground pepper
1 inch piece cinnamon
3 Kashmiri chillies
Prick the pork with a fork and pat salt all over it. Grind the ginger and garlic, add turmeric, pepper powder and rub the mixture on the pork. Set this to rest overnight in the fridge.
The next day leave the pork out for about an hour so that it comes down to room temperature. Warm some oil and add in the cinnamon, cloves and red chillies and fry for about half a minute. Then add in the marinated pork and fry till it is well brown on all sides. Add a one cup of water and allow it to cook with a lid on til the water is dry and the pork tender. You may need to add water if this drys up during the cooking process. This may take as long as an hour depending on the quality of the meat.
When done, saute onion rings or slices in a pan and to this add the cooked meat which you have diced or sliced