The Gospel according to St. Paul
While I was listening to the readings for this morning’s mass in memorial of St. Rose of Lima, a detail caught me from St. Paul. He was writing to the Christians of Philippi trying to encourage them to be faithful to their faith. And just like a lover who recourses to the moment of falling in love, St. Paul reminds them of how they received the faith that is now in danger of being lost. He tells them, “For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction” (1 Thes 1:5).
It seems that St. Paul is reminding us that the Gospel is not just the recorded words of Christ written down in our bibles. It is a living Word that comes alive in the power of the Holy Spirit. But it is not ethereal nor abstract. The crucial detail that caught me here were the words “with much conviction.” Certainly, conviction is something expressed by people and seen by people. The Christians of Philippi did not see the physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit acting with much conviction. They saw it in St. Paul who preached the Gospel to them first.
The Gospel then according to St. Paul are not just the words of the Bible, but it is the continuation of Jesus’ story and mission in the life of his disciples. It is evident by the action of the Holy Spirit upon that disciple’s life. The Gospel is not something we just read, it is also the story of Jesus that we live, we profess, and we witness to.
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