I have shared with you in my previous bulletin columns, a bit of knowledge about the Four Gospels, The Acts of the Apostles and the Letters of St. Paul. Now I would like to continue sharing the remaining books of the New Testament.

The New Testament Tradition attributes 13 Letters to St. Paul, written to specific Christian communities in the early Church. The next seven Letters, namely, James, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, and Jude – are known as Catholic Letters. The word “Catholic” does not refer to our Catholic Church, other than the Protestant Churches. Rather, the word “Catholic” was attributed to these seven Letters, since they were addressed to the whole, universal Church, as distinguished from Pauline Letters addressed to particular communities or individuals. While Paul wrote his letters to his recent Gentile converts, these letters were written addressing the established Congregations in more general terms.

The purpose of these Catholic Letters was to meet the ordinary problems encountered by the whole Church: refuting false doctrines, strengthening the people in the ethical implications of the Gospel message, sharing the common catechetical materials and strengthening the faith in the face of Roman persecution. They guided the ordinary Christian in his/her day-to-day life in the Church. Thus, these seven Catholic Letters differ from the Pauline style of extensive theological and doctrinal sections.

There is a special emphasis on the theme of joy in persecution, suffering as a witness to Christ, who has won these events through his passion, death and resurrection. Hence, the general theme of these Letters are submission, non-retaliation, humility, patience, good conduct and obedience to authorities as a sign of witness to the faith that the believers held.

May The Lord enlighten our mind and heart to understand his love revealed through the Bible.

Fr. Arul Joseph V.


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