Scripture: Lectionary # 368. II Cor. 11:1-11. Psalm 111:1-2,3-4, 7-8.
Paul speaks of “boasting in the Lord” or simply boasting from time to time.
Fr. David Stanley’s book called ,”Boasting in the Lord,” is about the
prayer life of St. Paul as seen in his writings. The expression is used
today in our first reading but needs to be seen in the context of the whole
passage and in the light of Paul’s prayer in action. This is how Fr.
Stanley came to the understanding of Paul’s prayer. The passage is very
inspiring and should be read over again after the liturgy is finished in
order to help us carry through on the thought and desire of St. Paul for
his Christian communities.
We are inclined to listen to people who speak with both heart and mind and
show their feelings. Paul does this as a good preacher and teacher. After
all, he was trained in this by the famous Rabbil Gamaliel, “The Elder”
known as “our Master” (Rabban). He was the grandson of Hillel who was head
of the Sanhedrin while Paul was engaged in his missionary journeys. Paul
was among his pupils (Acts 22:3). He was sympathetic to tolerance for the
emerging small Christian movement in Jerusalem. Gamaliel also worked for
improvements for the legal status of women. Paul learned many of his ways
of imparting the Scriptures of the Old Testament and then continuing using
these rules of interpretation in his own writings to the peoples addressed
in his epistles.
Paul and Jesus speak to us both through our minds and our hearts. We sense
the feelings they both had when giving us their teachings in metaphors,
parables, and comments on the symbolism of certain sacred events in the
history of their people. Paul demonstrates his love for people while
sharing what he knows as the authentic gospel of Jesus. Jesus speaks for
himself as we see in the Sermon on the Mount and he, like Paul, shows us
how to pray with boasting in the Lord: “Our Father, who art in heaven….”
Paul chides the congregation for listening to interpretations of Jesus that
are not authentic. He never shares anything that is not authentic and true
from what he has learned from the apostles like Peter and James, and what
he himself accepted from the Lord through revelatory experiences and
through personal prayer before undertaking an active mission among the
Gentiles. Paul is convinced that his knowledge and faith in Christ are
truthful and life-giving. His listeners therefore are advised by him to
listen and to absorb what he is preaching to them. He speaks with boldness
yet it is marked with raw humility. Though he may not like others claim to
be a “super apostle” he really does outshine those who boast only in
themselves and who do not give the true revelatory words and events of
Jesus to their listeners. Paul turns to the expression “in Christ” over
150 times thus showing how Christo-centric his message is.
Again we hear the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father from Jesus in the excerpt
from the Sermon on the Mount. We experience the power and depth of this
favorite prayer of ours and pray it often both in communal prayer and in
our personal prayer. We are like Paul “boasting in the Lord” when we pray
this great prayer that Jesus has given us. We rely on our two masters of
prayer this day, Jesus and Paul. Amen.