Saving the saved- Friday, 31st week in ordinary time – Romans 15:14-21

Saving the saved- Friday, 31st week in ordinary time – Romans 15:14-21

Star Treks by-line screamed, “To boldly go where no man has gone before”. The challenge for Captain James Tiberius Kirk was to lead his space ship, the Enterprise, into uncharted territory in a peace keeping mission for the federation. The mission for Captain Kirk was not without incident and even peace missions can be met with hostility.

St Paul lived this maxim two thousand years ago. He boldly went where the apostles were reluctant to go, into Gentile territory. For St Paul, not a moment was to be lost in making Christ known and as we know from Romans he soon realised the futility of waiting for the Jews to respond to the call to follow Christ. Paul went right out to the Gentiles and when he did he did not play it safe. He says to the Romans. “So that from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum I have finished preaching the Gospel of Christ. Thus I aspire to proclaim the Gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation.”

Paul was not a man who walked the diplomatic road. He called a spade a spade and most often described even its defects. Above all, he was faithful to his calling and unapologetic in his message. In today’s reading to the Romans he says, “But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the Gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

Paul teaches us two things; it is a waste of time ‘saving the saved’ and that we are called to live our convictions. Paul never ministered to those who had already been given the Good News. He sought new challenges in mission. He boldly went where no Christian had gone before. This was no half-hearted measure. Paul’s credentials in his letters reflect without boast, his sufferings for Christ. If Paul boasted about anything at all, it was about Christ.

Perhaps we need to evaluate our pastoral approaches. Are we saving the saved in our parishes? Are our programmes designed and executed for those who are comfortably seated in our pews or do we seek the 99 lost? (Yes I know you might think I made a mistake with the number but I have not). Perhaps as Pope Francis once said, we are content with the one saved and have forgotten the ninety nine lost. It’s time to go where no Christian has gone before.

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