Paul had been a notable sinner. By the grace of God, Paul became a new convert to Christianity. Many in the Jerusalem community couldn't believe Paul's conversion was sincere. "They even refused to believe that he was a disciple" (Acts 9:26). Paul was notorious for persecuting the Church. Understandably, the Christians didn't trust Paul. They may have thought he was pretending to be a Christian so he could later arrest them (see Acts 26:10).
Scripture cautions against too readily taking new believers at their word. When the new generation of Israelites promised to serve the Lord, Joshua wanted extra assurance of their willingness to commit themselves to the Lord (Jos 24:19ff). John the Baptizer didn't believe the Sadducees and Pharisees as they came forward to be baptized. He challenged them to "give some evidence that" they meant to reform (Mt 3:8). Similarly, Paul advises the Church not to promote a new convert too quickly, "lest he become conceited" (1 Tm 3:6).
Are you a new disciple of Jesus? If you face this situation of not being readily accepted by the community, take Jesus' advice. Humble yourself before God and concentrate on bearing fruit (Jn 15:16). Accept your cross as a pruning from the Father, your loving Vinegrower, Who always does what is best for you (Jn 15:1-2). Bear the fruit of "patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness, and chastity" (Gal 5:22-23) and "good deeds" (Eph 2:10). "Give...evidence" of your belief in Jesus (Mt 3:8). Glorify God by bearing much fruit and being His faithful disciple (Jn 15:8). "That should be the proof they need" (Mt 8:4).
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from April 1, 2009 through May 31, 2009.
†Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 3, 2008.