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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Vows

"At Cenchreae Paul had shaved his head because he had taken a vow. " Acts 18:18

We have all taken vows, some more formal and important than others. A childhood friend, although I had counselled him otherwise, took a vow not to go home until he had made fifty foul shots in a row, but most of us profess a different kind of vow. Either we marry, take vows as a religious, priest, deacon or bishop, or commit ourselves to a particular cause, and we do this at the prompting of the Spirit in order to live the Gospel more intentionally.

Why St Paul took a vow and shaved his head is not clear. We know that Paul encouraged his followers to  separate themselves from the world and give themselves totally to the way of Jesus in much the same way as the Nazirite vow challenged Jewish believers. Nazarites promised, for a period of time, not to drink alcohol or eat grapes and raisins, not to touch the dead, even in their own families, and to refrain from cutting their hair in order to purify themselves and return to the Law from which they had strayed. At end of the promised time, they offered sacrifice to God and shaved their heads as a sign of their new commitment.  

Perhaps Paul shaved his head to convince his contemporaries that he was also committed entirely to the Law and the Prophets, but was reinterpreting it according to the mind of Jesus. Reinterpreting the scriptures through the lens of culture and one's social context will always be a Christian's responsibility. Believers must pray to know how best to live and communicate the power of Jesus' message so that the world will never forget that the Jesus is God's gift to all for the salvation of the world. 

Today, ask the Lord for the grace of knowing how to proclaim the Gospel with power.

What idea or whose witness most helped you understand the transforming power of the Gospel?

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