St. Paul, known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, was born in the city of Tarsus, a Roman city, thereby imparting him Roman citizenship. At his circumcision, he was given the Hebrew name Saul. At a young age his parents cast him to Jerusalem to be instructed in the Mosaic Law under the greatest Rabbi of his time, Gamaliel.
Saul was an excellent student and as a Pharisee was respected for his great intellect and fervor for the Jewish faith and lores. Because the Jews had a rule that their children should learn a transaction along with their studies, Saul learned to prepare tents. This is a trade the information provided him with the finances he needed last-minute in his life to travel and evangelize. Because of Saul’s great keennes for Jewish regulation and habits, he was very upset about his Jewish brethren who were following the New Way, as Christianity was first called. So, thinking that he was serving God, Saul became the worst enemy of Christians. He hunted them down and dragged them out of their homes, incarcerating them and even having them killed. In fact, Saul was a witness to the stoning of the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen. Because Saul was a leader, he stood by and watched as those stoning Stephen laid their conceals at his hoofs. It’s very likely that Saul required Stephen to be stoned.
Saint Luke’s recording of this history in his diary of Ordinance is not merely an historical account. While pull his last gulp, Stephen announced out to God to forgive those that were stoning him. St. Augustine later announced today that had Stephen not prayed, the Church would have never had the great Apostle Paul. For it was Stephen’s prayer that embed the seed which subsequently helped Saul on his road to conversion.
Saul’s conversion occurred when he was on his behavior to the city of Damascus. He had gone to the high priest and the Sanhedrin for a commission to allow him to go where he knew there were numerous new Christians, to arrest them and take them back to Jerusalem for trial. The passage to Damascus took about two days by horseback. When he and his humanities were very near the city, they were unexpectedly surrounded by a illuminate so radiant that it beat Saul to the ground. The detail of what happened then is related in the book of Deed, section 9.” They heard a utter from heaven that said:’ Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me ?’ And Saul said,’ Who are you, Lord ?’ And He said,’ I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting; but rise and open the city, and you will be told what you are to do .’ The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the enunciate but discovering no one. Saul arose from the grind and when his eyes were opened he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and produced him into Damascus.
” For three days he was without sight and neither ate nor drink. There was a disciple there called Ananias. The Lord said to him in a seeing,’ Ananias .’ And he said,’ Here I am, Lord .’ And the Lord said to him,’ Rise and go to the street announced Straight, and ask in the members of this house of Judas for a guy of Tarsus reputation Saul; for behold, he is praying. And he has seen a human worded Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might retrieve his perception .’ But Ananias reacted,’ Lord, I “ve ever heard” from countless about this soldier, how much sin he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the primary pastors to bind all who call upon thy name .’ But the Lord said to him,’ Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and emperors and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of My name.’
” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said,’ Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me that you may regain you sight and be filled with the Holy spirit .’ And immediately, something like flakes fell from his eyes and he retrieved his slew. Then he rose and was christened, and took food and was strengthened .” From that time forth, Saul went on to preach about Christ. Because he was so well-known as a Pharisee and was now evangelizing for Christ, Saul began being persecuted by his Jewish brethren in the same way he had been persecuting the Christians. At some pitch he decided to start using his Roman name, Paul.
After spending some time with the devotees of Christ in Damascus, God called Paul to Arabia where he spent at least two years or more in the wilderness. It is believed that this is where Paul had visions much like the dream St. John writes about in his notebook of Revelation. The Lord readied Paul to learn the Gospel, and when Paul returned from the desert, after a short stay in Damascus, “hes been gone” instantly to Jerusalem where he met with Peter, our first pope, and some of the other Apostles, to receive Peter’s blessing before he started on his department. Paul spent the rest of his life traveling and spreading the Gospel of Jesus, proving faiths and belief others to lead in his absence. Paul’s messages to the churches that he installed even off over one-fourth of the New Testament. He rightfully is the greatest missionary in Church history.
From Johnnette Benkovic’s Graceful Living: Reflections to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day
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For the reason of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, destitutions, mistreatments, and cataclysms; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
— 2 Corinthians 12:10
Dear St. Paul, I wish I could say that I am content with weakness, mistreatment, distress, mistreatment, and difficulties, but that is not the case. All too often I complain at the least struggle or trial. Pray for me that I acquire the blessing I need to endure all things for the sake of Christ. Help me to see that when I am most powerless, Christ can garrison me if I cede my woe to Him. May the strength of Christ fill me, and may I hug the Cross with spirit and conviction.
There is much we can learn from the conversion of St. Paul. One instruction is that we should never judge others. St. Paul, the worst enemy of the early Christians, would seem to be the most unlikely convert to the Church. But God had a plan for Saul, just as He does for each of us. We never know how some big thing that we may say or do will affect another person. When Paul watched Stephen die a holy extinction, crying for his persecutors, it had to have an impact on him. And Stephen’s prayer was heard by God. The grain that Stephen planted by his Christian forgiveness of his enemies helped in the conversion of St. Paul. We are all called to be evangelists, to bush seeds of sect wherever we are able to — in our families and our use neighbourhoods. We never know when something we do or say might transform another or even raising a great saint and missionary to the Church like St. Paul.
Dear Lord Jesus, we thank you for St. Paul and his awesome witness in the early Church that is still impacting us today. We pray that You will bring others into today’s Church — our separated brethren, who like Paul are so often misguided, and likewise like St. Paul are zealous in their mistreatment of Catholics. We pray that You will bring them back to the one bend and that through their enthusiasm for the faith, millions will come to the fullness of Truth. In Your holy reputation we pray. Amen.
image: Fra Angelico, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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