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13 October 2008
Monday of 28th week in Course
If you have been following carefully the weekday readings this month, you realize that the Epistle is one of a series of readings from Paul’s letter to the Galatians. This is two-fisted Paul. He is hopping mad with the Judaizers who have been following him around and making Jews of those he has converted to “real Israelites,” that is, Catholics. He is pretty upset with the people in Galatia, too, who have fallen for their two-bit arguments. He calls the Galatian dupes “fools,” which is about as harsh as he ever gets. And he tells the people who want to circumcise his converts that he wishes they’d let the knife slip on themselves. Ouch!
So Paul pulls out his heavy weaponry here in Galatians. The Judaizers want everyone to be children of Abraham, get circumcised and obey the 600+ precepts of the Torah. They appeal to their “father in faith,” Abraham, who began the covenant of circumcision. But Paul knows the truth. It wasn’t some mark on Abraham’s body that made the covenant with God. It was Abraham’s faith, a faith that caused him, at God’s command, to leave his land and home and wander in the Holy Land and Egypt all his life. It was a faith that caused him to believe God would give him and Sarah a son who would be the spiritual father of all of us. And it was a faith that caused him to obey God even to the point of offering that son as a sacrifice–a sacrifice that God’s hand prevented, but that God Himself imitated all the way to putting His Beloved Son on a cross.
The Jews of Paul’s time, by and large, rejected the Son of God, and the covenant of faith. That’s why they revolted over and over against the Romans, who ultimately destroyed Jerusalem and scattered them all over the world. Here, Paul gets really cutting. He lumps the Jews who reject Christ together with Hagar and Ishmael–the illegitimate son who abused Isaac–and implies that those who try to follow the 600+ tenets of Torah are slaves. But he is correct. If you try to follow all those little laws, you end up so OC and so busy with minutiae that you have no time for the big commandment–love God and your neighbor. In a few days, Paul will talk about the real way to follow this bigger Law–through works of charity. Let’s not wait; let’s do them today.
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