A Concerned Farewell
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Moments ago we listened to the conclusion of Paul's letter to the Galatian Christian community.

He wrote these final personal thoughts in his own handwriting rather than passing them on to his scribe for formal treatment.

These are the heartfelt words of an aging man whose numerous trials and sufferings had taken a heavy toll.

He is not about to take much more abuse but nor is he prepared to hand the "Peace at any price" faction of the Church an easy victory that would enshrine the practice of creating transitional circumcised Jews out of pagans on their way to Christian baptism.

Christianity and the whole Christ event constitutes a new creation, says Paul. The Law has served its honourable purpose and is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The covenant between God and his people can now be truly honoured within its messianic context.

God, says Paul, has turned a page and so must all believers.

Paul is very emotional as he sees his own strength waning and he fears that the infant Church that he has struggled so hard to get onto its own two feet will lack the courage and spirit to persevere.

Eventually, as history attests, it did, but history has a way of repeating itself.

So the "Pauls" of today, many of whom are growing old and tired, are urging us to emerge from under our own era's version of a mountain of rules and regulations.

Rules and regulations that were long ago intended to subjugate and control, and to replace them with well-reasoned, inspirational guidelines that are intended to foster internally generated motion toward life in Christ.

We, the people of God, continue to mature toward greater personal responsibility, increased sensitivity to the authentic urging of the Spirit and a consequent aversion to rules and regulations that impede and control more than they encourage and sanctify.

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