St Paul and Jesus
Sir, Once again, two of your readers appear to have selected key words frommy letter (14 August), thrown them up in the air and reassembled them into a letter they suspect I might have written – but didn’t!
I do not compare or contrast Jesus with St Paul, any more than I would with Saints Peter, Andrew, James, John or any of the apostles. But neither can I conflate Jesus and Paul as Dr Wordsworth appears to do, regarding his words as the very voice of Jesus. It is Jesus alone to whom I can say, with St Thomas, “My Lord and my God.”
Search as I may, I cannot find where Jesus says to St Paul, “He who hears you, hears me...” I do find them in St Luke’s gospel, where they are addressed to the 70 whom Jesus is sending out on their mission – quite a number to entrust with the gospel message.
From an early age, we are taught that prayer is not a matter of bending God’s ear with our personal manifesto for the improvement of the world, with particular reference to our own lives, but should be more a matter of listening to whatever God may be saying to us either directly, as a still small voice in our own hearts, or via one of his messengers – today’s prophets.
To declare at the outset that we have no intention of listening to anything but our own voice in our own head, reading from our own translation of our preferred version of Scripture, is surely to harden our hearts against trying to keep Jesus’ new commandment, that we “love one another as he has loved us.” – which, of course, St Paul expands by showing how love is greater than faith or hope.
Reading and studying Scripture is vitally important for all Christians, but we must try to discern the spirit which lies behind the letter in order to understand the message and that is not always easy at this distance of time and via so many different languages. We have not all got the time or the skill to pursue this quest for ourselves, but let us not be verbally abusive about those who try to do so.
Mary P Roe,