A funny thing has happened to me on the way to what I hope is a more mature faith—I have come to really appreciate Paul. The fact that he shepherded several groups of people into what would be a larger community, the Christian community, speaks volumes for his perseverance, courage, and faith. The readings for today cover a fair amount of emotional territory—unalloyed joy, disappointment and disgust, great anger. They set me imagining Paul dealing with the emotional extremes of many people, people setting off on a new journey toward a new reality. How hopeful and fearful they must have been, letting go of past certainties that no longer satisfied, struggling to shed their old baggage to show they’d been born again in Christ. And if they were anything like me, they would fail, day after day. What a monumental task Paul was called to tackle.
Paul took up this burden and struggled to provide for these pilgrims a spiritual and emotional home that is set on the foundation that is Christ. As I see it, if these new followers of Christ were paying any attention, then they too were (and are) helping to build that home as well. Some of Paul’s conclusions have stood the test of time, and some have not. But any good structure needs to be refurbished over time, with new building materials as they become available. The Church is going through such a refurbishment, and it has been sometimes a bitter struggle as the members try to decide if what they wish to change is a result of new revelation or is simply modern convenience. It’s not easy. But then, it shouldn’t be.
This is some of the hard stuff of the spiritual/religious life. There will always be something more to do, to consider, to question. It is daunting and messy and frustrating, for we will never finish. My faith, however, is leading me to find that if this job is worth doing, it’s worth doing continually.
— Michele Allen