St. Paul

Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? (Acts 9:4)  Who could imagine those terrible words piercing one’s heart?   It was this was the momentous event in the life of St. Paul which can be considered his moment of new birth, his “conversion”.   Paul (Saul) was a Pharisee who defended his belief that he was doing God’s will by destroying the heretical Christian sect; he in fact was so zealous that he lost sight of the truth.  He had convinced himself, perhaps due to his over exaggerated love of self that he wouldn’t admit that perhaps he had strayed from God’s will to do his own.    When confronted with that illuminating moment, Paul experienced his true conversion that did not come from within, but from the glorious splendor of the Risen Jesus Christ.    Paul’s response reveals a deeper darkness in his life, “who are you Lord?”   The Lord himself reaches out to intervene into Paul’s life, stirs his heart and directs his energy, his passion and his zeal to the service of the Church.   Paul is sent to the heart of the Church to the community of the apostles to seek guidance, formation and direction.   Under the careful pastoral care of Peter, Paul becomes the Church’s boldest missionary, the apostle to the Gentiles.  

Paul’s early experience reminds us as Christian how foolish we often can become when we do not anchor apostolic desire, our religious fervor to the Church.  How often do we become so blinded by our vision of the Christian faith that we find ourselves opposing the communion of the disciples of Jesus found in the Church?     So often our deepest desire is to lead others to the joy of discipleship that we believe that anything that brings one to Jesus is good enough.   However, we risk taking the long road to Christ by placing ourselves in contrast to or outside the living tradition of the Catholic Church.   This why the failed experiments of the past in which we try to introduce or even impose “extra-ecclesial” movements, ministries, and traditions expecting that since they are generally Christian, no one would oppose them.   We end up being directed away from the Church’s magisterial teachings, rich liturgical heritage, and enormous wealth of spiritual patrimony.    Ultimately we can end up directing the very same question Saul did, “who are you Lord?”   

Each son and daughter of the Church is called to spread the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ who revealed the glory of the Father, suffered, died and rose again to redeem us.   But we are called to do it with, through and in his holy Bride, our mother the Church.   It is through the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit that we too encounter the Risen Lord Jesus, in prayer, in obedience, in the sacraments especially the Eucharist.   Do not allow yourself to attempt to place Christ against his Church, they are inseparable.   A faithful Catholic is a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.   For this St. Paul and the other apostles gave their lives to stand as witness to the world of the glorious splendor of faith.        

-Fr. Vasquez

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