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CALLED TO BE AN APOSTLE
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, 28th Week of the Year, October 14, 2013
Rom. 1:1-7, Ps. 97, Luke 11:29-32


"Paul a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures" (Rom. 1:1-2).


This is how St. Paul begins his great epistle to the Romans. He begins by introducing himself as "a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God" (Rom. 1:1). Although St. Paul was not one of the twelve apostles, the risen Christ appeared to him and called him to be an apostle, an apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 26:15-18). "Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles ... " (Rom. 11:13). His specialization was to call non-Jews, pagans, to believe in Jesus Christ for their illumination and salvation.


St. Paul was "set apart for the gospel of God ... concerning his Son" (Rom. 1:1, 3). This gospel or good news "is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16). It will be St. Paul's vocation to preach this gospel, this message of salvation, to the Gentiles. He preaches it for the obedience of faith among all peoples for the sake of Christ's name (Rom. 1:5). St. Paul wants all to hear this message about the Son of God and believe in it, because Christ is the one whom the Father sent into the world for our salvation. In this gospel is the justifying righteousness of God that justifies or makes righteous all who accept it with faith. In the gospel "the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live'" (Rom. 1:17).


St. Paul says that it was Christ "who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle ... a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth" (1 Tim. 2:6-7). That is, St. Paul was made an apostle to the Gentiles to preach to them about Christ "who gave himself as a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:6). Indeed Jesus said the same: "The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28). This is the message that St. Paul preaches to non-Jews, to pagans, that Christ the Son of God is the ransom for all.


Since Christ gave himself as a ransom for all, those who accept this message with faith will be declared and made righteous, seeing that he paid our ransom price, that is, he bore in himself our sins and suffered their just punishment in his body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). The result is that all who believe in him are declared and made righteous. St. Paul is the apostle of this saving message to the pagans, calling them to repentance, conversion, and faith in Jesus Christ. This was his mission, and it is the mission of the Church today as well.


St. Paul explains his mission, saying that the risen Christ appeared to him and said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles--to whom I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me" (Acts 26:15-18). This was St. Paul's mission and message to non-Jews. It is also our mission and message to non-Christians.

 

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