No mystery to God’s plan of History- Monday, 23rd week in ordinary time- St Paul’s letter to the Colossians 1:24–2:3

The letter of St Paul to the Colossians arrived hand delivered by Tychicus. This gent was no courier boy or a side kick of Paul. He was, in Paul’s own words, “a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant”. It is he who now comes with the letter to the Colossians, but even more to explain Paul’s mind to the community; for Paul himself has not evangelized this community. Hence, Paul feels compelled to present his credentials of suffering, as proof of his commitment to the teachings that he holds and propagates.

When Paul wrote this letter, he was in Rome, awaiting trial. He suffered much, all through his missions for the sake of Christ. Among many others sufferings, he had been beaten with rods, scourged on five occasions, stoned once, shipwrecked thrice, arrested several times, bitten by a snake, kidnapped, threatened, accused in lawsuits, interrogated, ridiculed and ignored.

Like Christ, Paul too suffers willingly; a suffering in which he rejoices for the sake of the Colossians and for the sake of the Church at large. Paul is not asking for a reprieve from his sufferings; rather he suggests that if in any way there was still some suffering that could have been inflicted on Christ and was not; he is willing to accept it now, for the sake of the Colossians. Therefore, verse 24 does not imply in any way that Christ’s atoning death on the cross was defective.

What then is Paul’s interest in the Colossians? Why is he willing to go out on a limb for them? The newly converted Colossians are plagued by false teachers from within the community. These teachers have dabbled in other religions and cults and have proposed a fusion of the teachings of Christ with different religions, cultures and philosophies, often known as the mystery religions.

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