09/24/2008, 00.00
VATICAN

Christianity not born from a myth but from a meeting with Jesus, says Pope

As he continues his reflections on Saint Paul, Benedict XVI stresses the importance the Apostle gave to the Risen’s earthly life and to his faithful adherence to what he learnt about him. This is evidence of the error made by those who claim that Paul was the founder of Christianity.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Christianity “was not born from a myth or an idea, but from meeting Jesus of Nazareth, the risen Christ,” i.e. from the human events that Saint Paul sought to know and which he had already talked about in the 30s AD. In today’s general audience Pope Benedict XVI focused on the importance Saint Paul ascribed to tradition and the events in Jesus’ earthly life before some 15,000 faithful present in St Peter’s Square in this beautiful autumn day. For the Pope the importance and attention the Apostle gave to what Jesus said and did “on the roads of Galilee” is evidence of the “error” made by those who view the former as the “founder of Christianity.”

“Before he began to evangelise, he met Christ on the way to Damascus,” the Pontiff said, “He spent time in church, observing him in the life of the Twelve Apostles and those who followed him on the roads of Galilee.” Indeed Paul “never met Jesus, which is why he felt the need to consult the first disciples.”

In Galatians he talks about his contacts, “first and foremost with Peter, chosen as the rock upon which the Church was being built.

He met Peter in Jerusalem “where he stayed for 15 days to consult him, get information about the earthly life of the Risen who,” after Damascus, “was changing his life,” said the Pope, “transforming him from a persecutor of the Church into an apostle.”

In view of “the kind of information he got in Jerusalem,” with Paul writing several times that he “faithfully related what he received,” the Pope stressed that in this information one can see “the constitutive elements of the Church, namely the Eucharist and the resurrection,” elements “already formulated in the 30s AD.”

“For Paul the words of the Last Supper are the core of the Church’s life as it was built around this centre,” and around which “it is continuously born.”

“On the one hand,” words of “great impact [. . .] are a sign that the Eucharist shed light on the curse of the Cross whilst turning it into a blessing [. . .]; on the other, they illustrate the Resurrection.”

The roll of apparitions to the Apostles Paul made “ends with Damascus [when] “Last of all [. . .] he appeared to me.”

Here the emphasis is on “his unworthiness in being considered an apostle like those who preceded him. But divine grace was not in vain. [. . .] So I and they preach the same faith, the same Gospel of Jesus.”

Paul “focused on the fact that He gave himself to the Father to free us from our sins and from death.”

“For your sake,’ he wrote in Corinthians, “he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”

“It is worth noting how the verb was used,” the Pope said, for “He is risen, not was risen” because “the Resurrection has touched the lives of believers until the present.” Hence, “we can consider ‘He is risen’ to mean he continues to live in the Eucharist.”

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