The Most Annoying Saint

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

St. Paul can be pretty annoying.

Last week he was fixated on how sexual relations with prostitutes taint the body. (1 Corinthians 6:12-20) I get it — the human body is holy, a gift from God to be treated with respect.

But this week Paul goes too far. “Let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning . . . and those who buy as though they had no possessions.”

Ignore my spouse? Forget the mother who died a year ago? Don’t bother to buy a decent pair of boots to protect my feet from winter snow and rain?

Are you kidding?

My partner, my mother, my feet – all gifts from God. And I’m pretty sure it’s my job to care for these things, to nourish and protect my relationship with them – along with my relationship with the one who invented spouses, parents and feet.

And yet . . . those of us who are wont to read Paul with one eyebrow arched need to cut him some slack sometimes. He was after all, struck by a flash of light that left no doubt in his mind that he was to give his entire life over to God – the whole thing, and now.

Same thing with the fishermen Simon, Andrew, James and John. They saw God in the face of Jesus and that was it; they dropped their nets and followed him.

I can’t help noticing, however, that Zebedee remained in the family boat, along with the hired hands. Yes, God was walking around on earth in human flesh. But some people were attending to business, making sure that at the end of the day there’d be dinner.

The trick question, of course, is how do we know when to drop everything and do God’s bidding – and when to keep on shopping for those boots?

© 2012 photo and text BF Newhall

“I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.”  1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Epiphany 3, LECTIONARY:

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Psalm 62: 6-14
1 Corinthians 7: 29-31
Mark 1:14-20




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© 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Barbara Falconer Newhall. and Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog's author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided that full and clear credit is given to Barbara Falconer Newhall and with appropriate and specifc direction to the original content. Bible texts are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA. The Psalms are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. Material originally published and copyrighted by the Oakland Tribune is posted here by permission. WordPress theme adapted from Thematic Theme Framework