Friday after the Tenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Galatians 6:11-18 (NKJV)
6:11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!
12 As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. 13 For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
The Jews persecuted Paul for preaching the righteousness of faith in Christ apart from works of the Law. St. Luke records several incidences in the book of Acts. The Jews from the neighboring cities of Antioch and Iconium came to Lystra and formed a mob, stoning Paul and leaving him for dead!
The Judaizers, who preached that circumcision was necessary along with faith in Christ, avoided such persecutions because they taught a gospel that was mixed together with fulfilling the requirements of the Law. Paul rebukes them sternly, “For not even those who are circumcised keep the law!” They may submit to circumcision, but the rest of the Law they leave untouched, imagining that the Gospel only softens the Law and makes it more manageable. Paul will not boast in his circumcision or ancestry. He boasts only in the cross of Christ. Circumcision doesn’t matter one way or another. What matters is the new creation, which is the man who has been declared righteous through faith in Christ.
Paul even reminds the Galatians, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” These marks, or stigmata, are not divine reproductions of Christ’s wounds on Paul’s hands and feet, as St. Francis imagined for himself. These stigmata are the marks of persecution. Paul is a walking sermon, his body showing the marks of persecution for the sake of the pure Gospel, by which men are justified through faith, not works.
We pray: O God, who declarest Thine almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity, mercifully grant unto us such a measure of Thy grace that we, running the way of Thy commandments, may obtain Thy gracious promises and be made partakers of Thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.