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Letters of St. Paul - Complete Album of 17 Sermons
3377-00-AL
 
Father Kenneth Baker, S. J.
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  Fr. Kenneth Baker’s Library: 17 Sermons on the Letters of Saint Paul

1) Introduction: The first sermon gives a brief biography of the life of St. Paul, his personality and his theology. Key points are his conversion to Christ on the road to Damascus, his warm personality and his profound theology which is wholly Christ-centered.

2) 1 & 2 Thessalonians: Paul’s first two letters were written in Corinth about 51 A.D. The idea of the end of the world and the Second coming of Christ runs through both letters. He stresses fidelity to Christ, love of God and neighbor, giving good example to pagans, being ready for the coming of Christ. All will rise from the dead when he comes.

3) Galatians: The main theme of the letter is that to be a Christian one must have faith in Jesus Christ, be baptized and practice works of charity. He argues strongly against the Judaizers who said that Christians must keep all the laws of the Old Testament. He defends his apostolic authority as coming directly from Jesus Christ and offers many details about his personal life.

4) 1 Corinthians: The theme of the letter is the need for unity in the Church, which is the body of Christ, and charity. He deals with divisions in the Church and the orderly use of charismatic gifts like speaking in tongues. Towards the end he describes the resurrection of the dead and says belief in the resurrection is a fundamental part of the Christian faith.

5) 2 Corinthians: The theme of the letter is the grandeur of the apostolic ministry and a vigorous defense of Paul’s own ministry as Christ’s chosen apostle to the Gentiles. He argues again against the Judaizers and says that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The letter shows that he is a very loving and sensitive person, but he also displays strong emotions.

6) Philippians: The letter encourages his converts in Philippi to persevere in the true faith, which they had received through him. He urges them to pray constantly in the joy of Christ, to imitate the humility and obedience of Jesus, to avoid those who distort the Gospel in any way, and finally to be models of charity.

7) Romans 1-5: Romans is Paul’s most important letter. The theme is that justification, which makes one pleasing to God and merits eternal salvation, is available to all, both Jew and Gentile, through faith in Jesus Christ. Justification means to acquire sanctifying grace and become a child of God. All are sinners and all need redemption through Christ. Chapter 5 contains Paul’s teaching on the sin of Adam which we call “original sin.”

8) Romans 6-11: In these chapters St. Paul explains the meaning of Baptism and sanctifying grace, and the contrast between sin and death and the grace and life of Christ. Next, he explains man’s tendency to sin and evil, which persists after Baptism and is called “concupiscence.” Chapters 9-11 deal with the place of Jews and Gentiles in god’s plan. The conversion of the Jews will be a sign that the end of the world is near.

9) Romans 12-16: In the final five chapters we find practical advice for life in Christ. Faith in Christ has moral consequences. All believers in Christ form one Body with many members. He lists 7 spiritual gifts for building up the Body of Christ and speaks of the proper relation between the Church and the State. He urges all to love God and neighbor, since this is the fulfillment of the law of God.

10) Colossians: The theme is that the Colossians must remain faithful to the traditional faith that has been given to them, and they must avoid all false teaching, whether pagan or Jewish. Christ in us is the mystery. The mystery means that the risen Christ is God and in us by his grace, which we receive through faith and Baptism.

11) Ephesians: Jesus Christ, who is God, possesses the fullness of all reality. He is above all and we are all united in him. The Church is his Body. The Mystery has been revealed that eternal salvation is offered to all, Jews and Gentiles. Ephesians has the most doctrinal content of all his letters.

12) Philemon: Paul pleads with Philemon, master of the runaway slave Onesimus, to receive him back and not to punish him. The shortest of all his letters, Philemon is a personal letter of friendship asking for a favor, based on mutual love and respect.

13) 1 Timothy: The theme of the letter is the pastoral care of the Church. This includes teaching sound doctrine coming from the apostles, guarding the deposit of faith and protecting it against false teachers, governing the Church with wisdom and charity, and giving good example in word and deed to all.

14) 2 Timothy: This letter is similar in content to the other two Pastoral Letters: it is a powerful exhortation to Timothy to teach sound doctrine and to be faithful to the apostolic tradition; he is to oppose false teachers and refute their errors. He is to be a model of virtue, a vigorous preacher of the gospel, and he is to urge the faithful to put the gospel into practice in their daily lives.

15) Titus: Paul exhorts Titus to teach sound doctrine coming from the apostles. He is to appoint worthy bishops and presbyters in each city and see to it that all give good example in word and deed. Also he must oppose and refute the false teachers who are disturbing the Church for the sake of monetary gain.

16) Hebrews: The theme centers on Jesus Christ—Son of God, Savior, and eternal High Priest—who was sent into the world by the Father to die for us, rise from the dead, and enter gloriously into heaven, where he reigns now eternally with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus and the New Covenant he inaugurated are superior to the angels, to Abraham, to Moses, and to the Old Covenant of Sinai. In order to share in his eternal triumph, we must persevere and remain faithful to him.

17) Theology of St. Paul: The key to understanding Paul is his mystical experience of Jesus on the road to Damascus. For Paul, the Gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who has faith. Under the power of sin and death, man found himself in a predicament from which he could not free himself. But God graciously justified man through Christ. The redeemed now live in the community of the Church where, empowered by the Spirit, they lead a morally good life, as they wait for the fullness of their redemption that will occur at the general resurrection of the dead.


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