Tag Archives: Apostle Paul

Remain in Me

Before meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul was “breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,” and yet today we remember him as a great evangelizer and prolific New Testament writer. What happened? Nothing less than an inbreaking of divine grace.

For the powers of humanity, there are a great many situations that are beyond hope: souls that have been irrevocably corrupted, systems that are beyond repair. But for God, no one is beyond hope. No matter how hardened a person, God can break through any barriers to offer them mercy and an opportunity for transformation. He stopped Paul right in his murderous path, turned him away from Damascus and out into all the world a changed man. He channeled Paul’s zeal toward its natural, rightly ordered purpose: building up the Kingdom of God. In the same way, our own human purpose can only be understood through an encounter with the divine.

Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him (John 6:56).
Jesus has given Himself to us in the Eucharist as an opportunity for encounter with Him, that we too might be transformed by His grace. He instituted this sacrament so that we might share a radical intimacy with Him. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati understood this deeply—he received Communion daily, meeting Jesus every morning and carrying Him throughout the rest of the day. This is the key to his sanctity: not Pier Giorgio’s own goodness, but his openness to divine grace, to deep intimacy with and vulnerability before God.

“I urge you with all the strength of my soul to approach the Eucharist Table as often as possible. Feed on this Bread of the Angels from which you will draw the strength to fight inner struggles.”
—Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Conversione_di_san_Paolo_September_2015-1aThe great things that Paul achieved after his conversion stemmed from this intense closeness with God and awareness of God’s perfect love. This is what opened Paul’s heart to allow God to work through him rather than imposing his own will. When the scales fell from his eyes and he saw his life with sudden clarity, he fell to his knees in humility before God. Throughout the rest of his life, as he wrote and preached and converted a great many souls, he was ever aware that it was all due to God working in him: It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20). Paul knew all too well the cold, cruel man he would be without God, and thus he was able to recognize that any good fruits that flowed from his work were not due to his own power or talent or goodness, but from Jesus Christ working through him.

1. Domenico Morelli, Conversion of Saint Paul / PD-US
2. Caravaggio, The Conversion of Saint Paul / PD-US

Originally posted at Frassati Reflections.

These Words are Fulfilled in Your Hearing

The gospel of Luke is the most Marian gospel.  It provides the five joyful mysteries:  the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation, and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple.  Luke says that he “investigated everything accurately anew.”  He must have spoken to Mary about the birth of Our Lord.

As Jesus on the cross gives his mother to “the beloved disciple,” he gives him to every beloved disciple.  As Luke writes his gospel to “Theophilus,” he writes it to every lover of God.  Luke, an apostle of Paul, writes his gospel that we may realize the certainty of the teachings that we have received, that written tradition may affirm oral tradition.

We find one strength for our faith in chapter four.  Jesus prepares for his temptation with forty days of fasting.  Moses fasted and gave the old law; Jesus fasts and gives the new law.  The living Word, Christ Himself, combats the devil with the written Word.

Jesus leaves the wilderness filled with the Spirit and enters the synagogue of his childhood. He teaches, and everyone praises him.  He reads from Isaiah that he has come to bring glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives, and sight to the blind.  After he finishes reading, he sits down to teach ex cathedra.  The crowd looks intently at him.  He explains that He himself is the homily, the fulfillment, the explication of the prophecy.  Filled with wrath, the crowd takes him to a mountaintop to throw him off, but He walks away through the crowd and escapes.

The Savior is the Teacher.  When he reads the prophesy from Isaiah, we learn that we must be poor in spirit and meek of heart in order to receive riches.  The Son fulfills the law, ushers in the new covenant, marries the widows, and adopts the orphans.  He frees us from the bondage and the blindness of sin.

Be Careful about St. Paul (Part 1)

The man Saul of Tarsus was once a terrible name to the infant Church of Christ as he was noted to carry out torture and execution at least indirectly to those who believed, preached and lived the Gospel message of Jesus the Christ. One of these persecutions of the Church led to the martyrdom of the first Christian martyr called Stephen, a man described to be “full of faith and the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 6:5).

God in His perfect wisdom found a place for this man called Saul from Tarsus in His vineyard. By the grace of God, Saul became Paul as he experienced a life changing encounter with the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ Himself on his journey to Damascus to carry out similar persecution of the Church. (cf. Acts 9) Years later after this encounter with Christ, Paul became one of the most instrumental authors and figures of the New Testament, and a man of heroic virtue and extraordinary charism (gifts).

Although St. Paul was not among the original 12 Disciples of Christ, he is acknowledged as an Apostle of Christ and compared and even paired up with St. Peter the Prince of the Apostles.  Many people mistakenly think that St. Paul wrote the Acts of the Apostles because of his other excellent New Testament writings/epistles. In fact, the author of the Gospel of Luke is the same person behind the Acts of the Apostles. Those two writings were addressed to a man named Theophilus (cf. Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1).

In our days today, just as the days of the Apostles, many people have directly or indirectly pick-and-choose what to believe and what not to believe in the Gospel. The Gospel is the heart of the whole revealed truth of God to man. It is in the Gospel that the greatest miracle ever took place which involved God becoming man through what is historically called the Incarnation. It is in the Gospel that Jesus the God-Man taught us all we need to know about God and how to be pleasing to Him. It is in the Gospel that Jesus as the Bread of Life offered Himself freely that those who believe and eat His body and drink His blood will have everlasting life. It is in the Gospel that Jesus as the Messiah suffered for our sins and died for the whole world. It is in the Gospel that Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead. It is in the Gospel that Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven and stated that He would come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. It is in the Gospel that man is reconciled with God.

Just as many people treat the King James Version translation of the Bible (KJV) as though it were the original manuscript (MSS) of the Scriptures, so sadly too, many treat parts or whole of the writings of St. Paul as though it were the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or much worst contradictory or superior to the Gospel message found in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The letters of St. Paul are supplementary but not self-sufficient and independent from the Gospel of Christ.