Walking with St. Paul

May 04, 2009

St. Paul: Christ gives us hope of resurrection

By Brian Pizzalato

The end of the world! The Second Coming! What is your reaction to these words? Do they elicit fear or joy and hope?   The end of the world and the Second Coming of Jesus also occupied the thoughts of the early Christians who lived in Thessalonica. St. Paul wrote two letters to them to aid them pastorally, by helping them to understand better these truths.   The Thessalonian Christians have a concern for their loved ones “who have fallen asleep [died]” before the coming of Christ....

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April 06, 2009

St. Paul tells us how to live a life in Christ

By Brian Pizzalato

Last month we discovered that St. Paul does not teach that we are saved by faith alone apart from the "obedience of faith" (Romans 1:5, 16:26). As St. Paul says in Ephesians, "…live in a manner worthy of the call you have received" (4:1). We must live this way because we have received the one Spirit, from the one God and Father of us all, through baptism, which makes us one body in Christ. (cf. Ephesians 4:4-6). "We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as...

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March 09, 2009

Both faith and works necessary for salvation

By Brian Pizzalato

The Protestant says to the Catholic, “St. Paul says in Romans 3:28, ‘For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law,’ therefore we are saved by faith alone.   The Catholic says to the Protestant, unsure of exactly where the passage is in the Bible, “somewhere in Scripture it says, ‘…a person is justified by works and not by faith alone,’ therefore we are not saved by faith alone.” Then the Catholic goes to a priest to find out that the...

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February 16, 2009

St. Paul on the salvific meaning of suffering

By Brian Pizzalato

“I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Galatians 2:19b-20).   How many of us think of the sufferings we personally endure, and the sufferings others endure, as being “crucified with Christ?” Don’t we more often consider suffering meaningless?   How many of us, like St. Paul, can say we “rejoice in our sufferings?”...

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January 26, 2009

St. Paul’s teachings on the Body of Christ

By Brian Pizzalato

St. Stephen, deacon and martyr, was a man "filled with grace and power" (Acts 6:8). He endured many of the same sufferings of Christ. Like Christ, he was accused of speaking "blasphemous words against Moses and God" (Acts 6:11). In the same way as the Lord Jesus, they "presented false witnesses who testified, ‘This man never stops saying things against [this] holy place and the law’" (Acts 6:13). He spoke words of eloquence and condemnation to his accusers and persecutors (cf. Acts...

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January 19, 2009

Passover reveals the true meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice

By Brian Pizzalato

"For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord...

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January 12, 2009

Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, Part II

By Thomas Smith

As I mentioned before the holidays, the Fruit of the Spirit matures in us to the degree that we are connected to Christ and cooperating with the Holy Spirit. This organic relationship at the heart of our sanctification (transforming us into Christ) is closely connected to the process of salvation/justification. It too, is a gift given at baptism. To understand best how to specifically begin cultivating/cooperating with the gift of the Fruit within us, we can turn to the natural world. The...

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December 15, 2008

Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit, Part I

By Thomas Smith

Several weeks ago, we reflected on the image of God as a Joyful Gardener  in the Old Testament.  The image didn’t end there, but had a kind of fulfillment one singular Sunday morning, when Christ burst forth from the tomb with all the brilliance of a bridegroom.  According to the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene was the first witness of the “first-fruits of the Resurrection,” but didn’t recognize her Lord immediately.  Maybe she was blinded by swollen eyes, or something more...

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December 08, 2008

Something must die

By Thomas Smith

As I mentioned last week, the Bible is full of agricultural images, beginning with God as a joyful Gardener. Paul picks up similar metaphors to describe our life in Christ. Our new life begins with the planting of the Seed, that is Christ (Gal. 3:16). This ultimate Gift is given us at Baptism, but like all the gifts received through the Sacraments, we must cooperate with them, or in theological language "be disposed" for the grace of the sacraments. We must cooperate with the gifts God...

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December 08, 2008

Eden - Old and New

By Thomas Smith

Before we can explore the nine characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit, we must set them in their larger biblical context. Let’s begin at the beginning. Genesis 1-2 offers the reader two very different angles on a single Creation event. Genesis 1 reveals the transcendent and ineffable Elohim, pictured as a grand Architect whose temple is the Cosmos, which he will form and fill over seven days. Genesis 2 offers us a complementary presentation of creation. In its verses, God’s personal...

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