The Full Gospel - A Pauline Perspective
by Fr (Dr) Fio Mascarenhas SJ, DMin and Sr (Dr) Renu Rita Silvano OCV, STD
(Mumbai: St Paul's, 2023), pp. viii + 126, ISBN 978-81-19597-93-2. Price: Rs 150/-
The conversion of Saul, the enemy of the nascent Church, to Paul, the "chosen instrument" (Acts 9:15) marks a turning point in the Church's mission to proclaim Christ's Gospel of salvation to the world. His letters testify to his total immersion in the Paschal Mystery of Christ, from which flowed his profound reflections on the meaning of Christian discipleship and the essence of Christian life. From a fanatic for the Law of Moses, he became an indefatigable apostle of the Full Gospel of Christ directly received "through a revelation of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:12), and so he could exclaim, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).
Amidst the pulls and pressures of life, and the attractions of the world, it is very easy for Christians to lose sight of their Christian identity and the unique gift of salvation Christ has bestowed on the world through His suffering-death-Resurrection-Ascension and Pentecost, of which they are called to be witnesses. It is very important therefore for every Christian to be reminded of his/her identity and what constitutes the Christian faith, of which Paul is the exponent par excellence.
This precious book THE FULL GOSPEL - A Pauline Perspective by Fr (Dr) Fio Mascarenhas and Sr (Dr) Renu Rita Silvano – the Indian luminaries of the Charismatic Renewal Movement - written in the context of the preparation for the Jubilee Year 2025, will certainly serve as an invaluable help for the renewal of the Christian faith which never ceases to challenge all Christians to a new life in Christ. The twelve chapters of the book are deeply meditative as well as informative; they offer reflections on the essential aspects of Christian life drawn from the writings of St Paul, along with a glimpse into his life and his missionary journeys which form the background.
In what way can we affirm that St Paul is expounding the Full Gospel? Because Pauline teaching underlines: a) the whole truth about Jesus Christ; b) the Christian essentials i.e. priority of grace, salvation by faith, centrality of the Cross, new life in the Spirit, belongingness to the Body of Christ; c) the identity of a Christian which is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, leading to a personal relationship with the Father of Jesus Christ, and to a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit; d) the truth of being co-heirs with Christ (cf. Romans 8:14-17); e) the confidence to proclaim "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20); f) the ability to face life confidently – "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (Romans 8:35); g) the ability to call God 'our Father' i.e.'Abba'; h) that Jesus is the pioneer of our salvation who teaches us the mystery of the Cross as an invitation to love; i) that the Holy Spirit is 'the Lord', or God; j) that suffering is meaningful.
The twelfth chapter is in two parts – 12A on 'Praying with St Paul' which invites readers to make their own some of his prayers, e.g. Ephesians 3:14-21; Colossians 1:9ff, Romans 15:5-6, 13 etc., and 12B which is a Pauline Lectio Divina on Romans 8:31-39 as a model.
The book is indeed a spiritual treasure which is not to be read once and kept aside, but to be returned to again and again for our spiritual nourishment, especially in moments when strong negative currents from within and without tend to take us away from the path of the Gospel.
+ ANIL COUTO, ARCHBISHOP OF DELHI