Continuing his reflections on St. Paul, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated today's audience to Paul's relationship with the Twelve Apostles. The Pope reminded the faithful that like Paul, “our faith is not born of a myth, nor of an idea, but of a meeting with the Risen One in the life of the Church."
Speaking to some 15,000 thousand faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict began his speech by noting the "great respect and openness" that marked Paul and the Apostles' interaction. Paul, who never had the opportunity to meet Jesus, consulted the first disciples of Jesus after his conversion on the road to Damascus. “For this reason ... he felt the need to consult the Master's first disciples, who had been chosen by Him to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth."
Thus, in his Letter to the Galatians, Paul speaks of his meetings with Peter, James and John, whom he recognizes as "pillars of the Church, while in his Letter to the Corinthians he makes it clear that for him Christ's words at the Last Supper are "the center of the life of the Church," said the Pope.
"The words of the Last Supper," the Holy Father explained, "on the one hand demonstrate that the Eucharist illuminates the curse of the cross, making it a blessing, while on the other they explain the scope of Jesus' death and resurrection. ... The Church is built and recognizes herself as the 'Body of Christ', from and in the Eucharist."
Pope Benedict also reflected on how Paul uses the verb tense "is risen," and not "was risen." According to Benedict, this signals that Christ continues to live "in the Eucharist and the Church."
Paul’s role as an apostle was also considered by the Pope. He pointed out that Paul expressed "his indignity in being considered an apostle," but that "the grace of God in him was not in vain." Paul and the Apostles preach the same faith, the Holy Father emphasized, the same Gospel of Jesus Christ "died and risen, who gives himself in the Most Holy Eucharist."
Lastly, the importance that Paul assigned to the living Tradition of the Church, was examined by Benedict XVI.
The emphasis that Paul gave to the Church’s living Tradition and which he transmitted to his communities, “shows how wrong is the view that attributes the invention of Christianity to him. Before evangelizing in the name of Jesus Christ, his Lord, he met Him on the road to Damascus and frequented Him in the Church, observing His life in the Twelve and in those who had followed Him along the roads of Galilee,” the Pope said.
"The more we seek the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth along the roads of Galilee," Benedict XVI concluded, "the more we understand that He assumed our humanity, sharing it in everything except in sin. Our faith is not born of a myth, nor of an idea, but of a meeting with the Risen One in the life of the Church."