Tuesday, May 03, 2016

One Born Abnormally

Duccio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Melanie Rigney

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. After that, he appeared to James, then to all the Apostles. Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

Their message goes out through all the earth. (Psalm 19:5)

Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” (John 14:8-10)

Lord, I ask for the humility and faith of St. Paul, who called himself “the least of the apostles.”

No one’s faith journey is the same. I’ve known people who were raised in the Christian faith of their parents, who found comfort and joy and succor in it, who never really questioned the concept of church, capital or lower case c, for whom obedience and submission come naturally. Their stories are a beautiful witness to the faith. They appear the same on the surface, but talk a bit and you’ll find that beneath the surface are unique struggles and challenges they truly don’t regard as such; the impact of what others regard as tragedies don’t penetrate the souls of these folks because their spiritual armor is so strong.

Then there are the rest of us. Our journeys all are different as well. They include doubts and fears that rocked us to the core. Sometimes, the rocking and reeling were enough to drive us from the Lord for a time. Sometimes, we didn’t have much of a faith life as children, and when struggle reared its head, we had no God to turn to… only a dim understanding that we needed something that we didn’t have, that treasured family members and friends and work and prestige and money couldn’t buy or offer.

Today we celebrate the feast of two apostles whose stories we know little about. This James, we believe may have been the apostle James, son of Alphaeus; he is not to be confused with James the son of Zebedee and brother of John. Similarly, little is known about Philip, beyond that like Andrew and Peter, he came from Bethsaida and was present at the miracle of the loaves and fishes and the Last Supper. We see him there in today’s Gospel reading; we hear the frustration in Jesus’s explanation of his relationship to the Father. We know that like Paul, both suffered martyrs’ death.

Perhaps that’s the lesson to be learned from Paul’s discourse in 1 Corinthians 15. We come to the Lord in different ways, “born abnormally” as Paul was, or longtime faithful servants of the Father. How or when we get there isn’t as important as that once we arrive, we are steadfast in our service and belief.

Where are you comparing your journey to the Lord with that of others and feeling either inferior or superior? Pray for the humility to offer thanks for your unique path.

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