Sunday, February 7, 2010

St. Popeye


"By the grace of God, I yam what I what I yam and that's all what I yam
his grace to me has not been ineffective."

The readings this weekend were powerful... Please take some time to read them or re-read them with new eyes because they are so rich. I believe that they really do have something that God wants to tell you in them. Here is the link: Readings for Sunday, February 7th, 2010.

I just gotta say I love St. Paul. He has many lines that people quote but this one has always stood out the most to me.

"Last of all, as to one born abnormally,
he [Jesus] appeared to me.
For I am the least of the apostles,
not fit to be called an apostle,
because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me has not been ineffective."
1st Corinthians 15:8-9

That is just beautiful.

St. Paul's whole identity is tied up with persecuting Christians. Before his conversion his name was Saul and he was a zealous and faithful Jew. He was a Pharisee and he KNEW the Law. We meet Saul in the Acts of the Apostles, chapters 6-8, when Stephen is accused of preaching about Jesus and against the Law. Similarly he is taken to the Sanhedrin, like Jesus, to see if he has been Blaspheming. Which according to Mosaic Law, the laws in the Bible given by Moses, has a penalty of death by stoning.

In Leviticus when one of the Israelites blasphemed they are taken to Moses and the Lord tells him:

"Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and when all who heard him have laid their hands on his head, let the whole community stone him. Tell the Israelites: Anyone who curses his God shall bear the penalty of his sin; whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall be put to death. The whole community shall stone him; alien and native alike must be put to death for blaspheming the LORD'S name." - Leviticus 24:14-16

In Deuteronomy 13:11 it says:

"You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery."

So they did just that. They stoned St. Stephen for blaspheming and he became
the First Martyr of Christianity.

I got stoned and went to heaven.

"They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul." -Acts 7:58

Here is the man who would become St. Paul.

"Now Saul was consenting to his execution. On that day, there broke out a severe persecution of the church in Jerusalem... Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment."

This guy would hunt down Christians in order to get them killed for believing in Jesus.

Saul became known as the man who Persecuted the Church. And God calls him. He became the most influential figure in Christianity second to Jesus. Wow that is crazy!

For the rest of his life he was always known as the one who persecuted us.

"When he arrived in Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple." -Acts 9:26

Why do I mention this?

Because I wonder what I would have done if I met Paul at the beginning of his conversion. I am pretty sure, if I was a Christian back then, I wouldn't believe him at all. I would think this is a trick. He just wants to find out who were are and where we live so he can kill all of us. For the rest of his life St. Paul was constantly reminded of this or introduces himself is the who USED to persecute Christians.

Now when I do something bad or make someone feel bad I tend to dwell on it and feel incredibly guilty.

How often did St. Paul think about the people that he got imprisoned or killed?

Did he pray for them everyday?

Did he think about them when he himself was stoned?(Acts 14:19)

At what point did he forgive himself?

How long did it take for him to accept what he did and continue to live his life for Jesus?

I think about things I've done in my life that I still hold on to. Places where I won't let Jesus heal me. And I wonder why do I keep holding on to these stupid experiences that I am ashamed about or embarrassed about when I can just accept it then move on.

"For I am the least of the apostles,
not fit to be called an apostle,
because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me has not been ineffective."

Everything I have done has led me to this point and God has been with me the whole way. I look at what I have done and I see how far God's grace has pulled me to Him. The rest of his passage is this:

"But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me has not been ineffective.
Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them;
not I, however,
but the grace of God (that is) with me."
1st Corinthians 15:10

I guess what I am getting at is Self-acceptance.

Do I accept myself with all my faults, weaknesses and past sins? Do I accept myself with all my strengths, skills and accomplishments? Am I able to acknowledge what comes from God? Do I thank God for just the way my life is at this very moment? I hope I can come to the point where I can say, "Look, this what I am and God's grace is making me better everyday. All the good I do comes from me knowing God's Love for me. When I trust Him and allow Him to, God works through me." And mean it.

BTW Every time I hear, "I am what I am," I think of Popeye. Hence the icon up top. Here is the youtube link for the old cartoon episode: Popeye - I Yam What I Yam

Pray well and God Bless!

No comments:

Post a Comment