In Advent 2020, Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing launched his Year of the Bible, a day-by-day delivery of a chapter from the Holy Bible that will see subscribers make their way through the story of salvation history as set out in Sacred Scripture over the course of 12 months. So far, there are over 12,000 subscribers. Want to join? Go to: https://www.dioceseoflansing.org/byob
Today, Sunday, March 14, 2021, sees Bishop Boyea introduce a new book of the Bible for subscribers to read: Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. Why has he chosen this book as part of his Year of the Bible? Here’s what he has to say:
Hello, I am Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing. During this Fourth Week of Lent, from Sunday to Friday (March 14-19, 2021), we will be reading the six chapters of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. Paul, writing to the several churches in this Roman Province of Galatia probably about 55 AD from Ephesus, is in a very feisty and agitated mood. There has been a serious questioning of Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel among the Christians of these churches which he founded.
Evidently, it all came down to how we, as Christians, are to be heirs to Abraham and the covenant that God made with him. Is it by being circumcised as Abraham was, and thus also following all the other Jewish laws? Paul says, “No.” Abraham believed God even before he was circumcised and it was that faith which bound him to God who made a covenant with him. We who have faith then are heirs of the covenant promise made to Abraham by being in Christ Jesus, who is the real heir of Abraham.
To set the stage for this argument, Paul wants it made clear that his missionary mandate and the Gospel he preaches are at the direct order of God. It is in that vein that Paul presents a good amount of his own history in chapters one and two. He notes that his views received the recognition of the other apostles.
But the heart of his case is to show that Jesus Christ, who was a Jew just as Paul was, has by his cross freed all of us, including the Gentiles to whom he was writing, from the obligations of circumcision and the law. He even turns the tables on his opponents and calls them descendants of Hagar (traditionally seen as the mother of Gentiles) while Paul’s congregations are the true descendants of the free woman, Sarah!
It is life in the Spirit which becomes the new mode of Christian adherence to Jesus. Nothing should diminish what Jesus has done and the freedom he has won for us. This discussion of the Spirit and freedom are the heart of chapters five and six.
There are many temptations for us to seek other means of living out our lives. There is only one truth, says St. Paul, and that is that Jesus is our hope. As Paul writes, “But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”