Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 8, 2008
St. Paul offered inspired example for pastors – Orthodox leader
BY PETE SHEEHAN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
HUNTINGTON, N.Y. – The Year of St. Paul is not long enough to fully appreciate the legacy of the writings and ministry of St. Paul the Apostle, said Archbishop Demetrios.
The head of the Greek Orthodox Church in the U.S. said St. Paul’s influence is apparent if often unnoticed today and pointed out how often St. Paul is quoted, not just in Church circles, but in everyday life.
“Fight the good fight,” “labour of love,” “the wages of sin” and “suffer fools gladly” are among the common expressions from the 13 letters in the New Testament attributed to St. Paul, Archbishop Demetrios said.
Yet the apostle’s legacy is “more profound,” he noted.
Archbishop Demetrios, who is a Pauline scholar, made the remarks Nov. 23 in delivering a lecture on pastoral theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary.
Catholics and Orthodox Christians are celebrating the Pauline year from June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009.
In his lecture Archbishop Demetrios spoke of St. Paul’s “pastoral genius” in taking the Gospel of Christ to the larger world and establishing a body of thought that has endured so long.
Christ crucified represents “the medicine of first resort for every spiritual weakness,” he continued, and thus there can be “no possibility of compromise.” According to St. Paul, to be a pastor is to offer that Gospel with integrity.
St. Paul insisted on overcoming human distinctions among believers, the archbishop said. “There is a school of thought” that divisions within a group must be accepted as part of the fallen human condition, but St. Paul rejected such thinking.
“What is the Church” but the body of Christ, allowing for no divisions, the archbishop explained. St. Paul specifically denounced distinctions among Jews and Greeks and rich and poor because any such distinctions are to be subordinated to unity in Christ, he said.
In addition, St. Paul emphasized “the plan of God for salvation for all people,” Archbishop Demetrios said.
St. Paul travelled “the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire” in his zeal to draw souls to Christ, he continued.
Closely related is St. Paul’s adherence to the pastoral care of souls, which the apostle freely expressed in his writings, Archbishop Demetrios explained. St. Paul wrote to his disciples that he prayed for them and thanked God for them.
“What an incredible difference it would make if every pastor” showed such zeal for his people, the archbishop said.