October 10, 2011 - Monday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

Two-thousand years ago, last names were relatively flexible; a man might be known by his job or his father’s name or his city. St. Paul takes this concept a bit far in our first reading today. The entire reading is just the introduction to the letter, mostly consisting of St. Paul’s name for himself. This is partly because he is writing this letter to the Romans, and he has never visited the Christians in Rome, so he is putting all his credentials in there. He is not just Paul. He is Paul, the slave of Christ Jesus.

Then he mentions his vocation. He does not mention that he is a tentmaker, which was his occupation. He calls himself an Apostle, but he emphasizes that he is not an Apostle because he decided one day to be an Apostle. He is an Apostle because he was called to be an Apostle, because God had set him apart for his Gospel. There were people going around in those days claiming to be Apostles, claiming to be Super-Apostles, whatever that means. Unlike all of them, Paul was a true Apostle because he was called by Jesus Christ after the Resurrection. Paul is just as much an Apostle as Peter or John, unlike those others who stood on nothing but their own authority.

Then St. Paul proves that he knows the Gospel by relating it in summary form here. This text, in a very long relative clause, is one of the Church’s earliest creeds. Contained in these few verses are the mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and Salvation. The Nicene Creed, which we recite at Mass each Sunday, is just an expansion of what is contained in this little introduction.

Then, having introduced himself and proven that he knows the Gospel, Paul finishes the greeting by addressing those to whom the letter is addressed. He identifies them in three ways: by their city: Rome, by their current status: beloved of God, and by their future status: called to be saints. So let me turn this greeting toward you, changing only the city. Hear these words addressed to you and know they are still true after 2000 years and 5000 miles. To all the beloved of God in ___, called to be saints. That describes you. To all the beloved of God in ___, called to be saints. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.