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Epistle to the Galatians

The letter starts with Saint Paul’s ceaselessly repeated affirmation: he is “an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ.” (1: 1) He is the slave of Jesus. (1:10) The content of the Gospel that he brings to the Galatians is Christ, risen from the dead. (1:7) There is no other gospel, for the Gospel is Jesus Christ himself. (1:6-9) Therefore, it is not a gospel “after man,” for Paul neither received nor learned it of man, but “by the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (1:11, 12) who appeared to him on the road to Damascus (1:13-24) and who justified him by his faith in him. (2:16, 17)

Here Saint Paul proudly proclaims his vital, key formula: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (2:20)

Moreover, Paul wishes this very image to be depicted among the Galatians: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (3:1) Saint Paul himself, like a mother in labour, is suffering the pangs of child-birth “until Christ be formed,” in them. (4:19) Those who acknowledge Christ must be crucified with him, for “they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (5:24) Paul’s glory is in the cross of Christ: he too wishes to be crucified with Jesus and to be like him. He continues, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks (stigmata) of the Lord Jesus.” (6:14-17)

For Saint Paul, Jesus is everything. In him, he has gained all and in Jesus, every person can reach salvation, for the promise was given by faith in Jesus Christ (3:22) and there is one mediator, Jesus Christ. (3:20) The Law leads us to Christ, (3:24) for we “are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of (us) as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for (we) are all one in Christ Jesus. And if (we) be Christ's, then are (we) Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (3:26-29)

Paul wishes everyone to be like him: a new creature in Christ. In Christ, we are “born again…of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8) That is what the Church Fathers famously termed theosis or divinisation, which affirms that “the Son of God became the Son of Man: so that man …might become a son of God.”  (cf. our Christmas Letters, Emmanuel 2004 and The Unifying Incarnation 2005) Thus, unity in Christ becomes the goal of human life. Furthermore, unity in Christ becomes the foundation of unity, solidarity, dignity and fellowship among mankind.

We know from history that Saint Paul was martyred, beheaded, in Rome, though even before his death he lived stigmatised by Christ’s sufferings. So Saint Paul is one of the first whom we know to have borne the marks of Christ’s passion, as did later Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Rita of Cascia, Saint Marguerite-Marie Alacoque, Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified and countless others.

It is Paul’s love for Christ that led him to the point of being really crucified with him.


Teachings of Christ

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30 ESV)

Theophany

At Your baptism in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge sing praise to You: * “You have come, and You have appeared , O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself." (Proverbs 6:32 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The work of prayer belongs to the angels, and is, therefore, the special concern of the Church. Every other work, i.e., charity, nursing the brethren, visiting the sick, caring for prisoners, releasing captives, and other similar things, is done by the brethren in love and offered by them to God. Similarly, poverty, fasting, sleeping on the ground, prostrations, vigils, etc., are good and like a sacrifice to God, because they aim to subdue and humble the body so that we may be purified and approach God and become friends of God -- yet these things do not present us directly to God, whereas prayer does so and unites us with Him. A person praying acts towards God like a friend -- conversing, confiding, requesting -- and through this becomes one with our Maker Himself.

St. Symeon of Thessalonica