Today we celebrate the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, and I am so fascinated and admire the Him so much that I can’t help but write about him, an extra ordinary tough guy.. my model , and Idol. St. Paul , is a Pillar of the Chaotic Church, a Great Saint, Apostle of the Gentiles and , one who personifies Courage, Strength of Character, Responsible Work attitudes, Fortitude and Fearless in his quest for Justice, Truth and Defender of Human Rights.
The beautiful historical reality about the life of St. Paul, begins with his conversion. It happened while on the road to Damascus, in order to exterminate the early Christians.
Saul was on his way to Damascus, ” breathing threats and murder against the disciples of The Lord” .. But here we see the Power and Greatness of GOD, who can transform a ” fanatic” over zealous person, willing to kill , and act violently, into an entirely new man. From a persecutor against the Christians , to a Great Apostle and Martyr of the Faith.
We read at the Acts of the Apostles , ..”suddenly a light from Heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘ Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? ‘ And he said, ‘ Who are you, Lord? And he said, ‘ I am Jesus , who you are persecuting ” ( Acts. 9: 3-5)
There is nothing impossible for GOD. His Infinite Grace , and Power, can Convert the hardest criminal into one of the great pillars of the Church and an Apostle .
However, GOD respects our Freedom. We need to make the necessary effort to correspond and nurture the Blessings and Graces we receive. Our Lord requires our “Yes” , our Will to act, and the Daily Struggle to do His Will.
St. Paul’s corresponding to GOD’ s Grace was not at easy. And it is here that I draw my great admiration, my ” idol” and example of a very tough survivor. A man with so much courage, fortitude and strength of character.
Saint Pope John Paul II , “the Great” , in his homily , January 25, 1987, said
“Paul accepted this task and made of it, from that moment , the very purpose of his life. His ‘ conversion’ lies precisely in this, that he allowed the Christ he encountered on the road to Damascus to enter into his life and to orient it towards one single goal: the preaching of the Gospel. ‘ I owe a debt to the Greeks as well as to the barbarians , to the learned as well as to the ignorant..
I am not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of GOD unto salvation for whoever believes ‘ ( Romans 1: 14- 16 )
St. Paul was a ” risk taker” he was fearless in facing dangers. He endured long hours of hard work, he suffered betrayals. Being a very tough man, he took so much pain , suffering, hardships, hunger and thirst, exposed to extreme cold and heat, but no matter what, St. Paul survived! I suggest we read , 2 Corinthian 11: 24- 29 and there you will see his personal account of all what he had to endure so as to carry out his mission.
Let us then, try our best to follow the example of St. Paul, we all have our “mission” in life. We will find the meaning and purpose of our Being and existence . For Live has its ups and downs, for some it may be easy, but for others we may encounter difficulties , pains, hardships, misunderstandings , or having to live in a hostile environment .
However, if we focus on bearing witness to the truth, to fulfill our calling and vocation , to defend life, human rights, social justice, and respect the dignity of the Human Person, then, like St. Paul, we will need the special,Grace of GOD. We strive to develop the Virtues of courage, fortitude and strength so that we may be “winners” , finding Joy , Happiness and Optimism, towards the victory we all hope for.
Are we weak? Well so was St. Paul, he said, that Jesus told him, “My Grace is sufficient for thee, for strength is made perfect in weakness “
Are we with infirmities? St. Paul writes, “Gladly therefore I will glory In my infirmities , that the strength of Christ may dwell In me” .. ” For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
One day, we will reach the “evening” of our life.. We will face the situation that our mission will have its victorious end, the end of our pilgrimage. The problem, we know not when. That is why we try to struggle for a daily convention, to change for the better, and fight our “little battles” of each day.
Lets finish with these very inspiring words of St. Paul, from 2 Timothy 4: 6- 8; when he said, “As for me, I am already being poured out in sacrifice , and the time of my deliverance is at hand. “
This is my favorite part; “I have fought a good the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the Faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of Justice, which The Lord , the just Judge, will give to me in that day; yet not to me only, but also to those who Love His coming.”