Posted July 23, 2007
Year of St. Paul:
Focus on the Bible
A jubilee for the 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul’s birth will be observed by the church from June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI announced at the end of June this year. Pilgrimages, study conventions and special publications on Pauline texts will be encouraged, he said. An ecumenical focus will characterize this jubilee, the pope added. For, he said, “the apostle to the gentiles, who was especially committed to taking the good news to all peoples, left no stones unturned for unity and harmony among all Christians.”
What was the secret of Paul’s success? Pope Benedict said, “From his letters, we know that Paul was far from being a good speaker; on the contrary, he shared with Moses and Jeremiah a lack of oratory skill.” Instead, the pope continued, “the success of [Paul’s] apostolate depended above all on his personal involvement in proclaiming the Gospel with total dedication to Christ – a dedication that feared neither risk, difficulty nor persecution.”
The pope noted that historians have placed the birth of Paul between the years 7 A.D. and 10 A.D.
“In a largely oral culture, Paul’s letters are the first formally written documents of the New Testament,” according to a discussion about Paul on the Web site of the Diocese of Austin, Texas. The article by Beth Balsam, an Austin religious educator, says: “Paul’s first letters were probably written in 50 A.D. to the church in Thessalonica. The first canonical Gospel, Mark, was not written until at least 65 and maybe as late as 75 A.D.”
In her article on Paul, Balsam writes: “Paul deeply understood the importance of community and the rich meaning of church as a ‘household of God’ (Ephesians 2:19) and ‘household of faith’ (Galatians 6:10).”
The church in central Texas currently is observing a “Year of the Word.” In light of this, the Austin diocesan Web site (www.austindiocese.org/yotw/) has an entire section of materials to promote understanding and discussions of Scripture, and biblical spirituality. Included under the heading “Meeting With Scripture” are guidelines for beginning any meeting at a Catholic parish, school or organization with a 10- to 15-minute discussion of or reflection on Scripture. So this Web site should prove a useful resource for catechists and religious educators of all kinds on the local level.