Due to the coming holiday, with people traveling or preparing for family to travel to them, this week’s Bible Study was short and sweet. It primarily focused on the reason why the Epistle Reading (Galatians 1:11-19) is read along with Matthew 2:13-23 on the Sunday after Christmas.
The Gospel Reading focuses on Christ’s flight to Egypt in the face of Herod’s massacre of the male children in Bethlehem. On its surface, St. Paul’s claim that the gospel he preached is not man’s gospel doesn’t seem to be related in any obvious way. The key for understanding this relationship lies in Galatians 1:16-18:
I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem
If we remember St. Paul’s story, he was sent to persecute the Church. If he returned to Jerusalem immediately, he would have faced not only persecution, but retribution. In this way he is like the Christ child. He was newly born in the faith. As such he was not yet ready to fulfill his role in the history of salvation. It was not yet his time.
The flight to Egypt underlines the reality that Christ came in order to die. The immediate reaction of those who live in this world to the Nativity of Christ is violence — a violence that He will eventually allow HImself to be subject to; however, it was not His appointed time. He had to allow his humanity to develop, to create the human bonds necessary to set up the foundation of His Church.
In this same way, St. Paul had to prepare for his coming mission to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. He had to process everything that God had revealed to him in order to be able to teach others the wisdom he had gained. He only endeavored to get his blessing from the Apostles to carry out his mission when it was his time.