In daily Mass we have been reading from second chapter of the Letter to the Galatians. In it, St. Paul recounts his personal history and describes his authority. St. Paul’s story is interesting for three reasons:

  1. It shows that St. Paul did not ascend to the office of apostle (bishop) overly quickly but rather was formed in the community of the Church for quite some time and did not go on mission until he was sent.
  2. It spells out Paul’s relationship to authority within the Church.
  3. It shows the need for fraternal correction even of those under whose authority one falls.

Let’s take a look at each of these matters in turn.

1. On Paul’s conversion, formation, and ascent to the office of apostle (bishop) – Many people have oversimplified notions of Paul’s conversion and subsequent missionary activity. Many who have not carefully studied the texts of Acts, Galatians, and other references, incorrectly assume that Paul went right to work as a missionary immediately following his conversion.

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