“May the zeal and passion of St Paul inspire all of us to live in total dependency on the Lord!”

(Based on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul)

A 7 year old boy came to his grandfather after his catechism classes and asked him:
“Grandpa, today our teacher taught us about St Paul. Let me therefore ask you a question…

From which animal did St Paul fall down on the way to Damascus? I will give you 3 options: Camel or Donkey or Horse?”

The grandfather, looked at the boy: “Oh my boy! I am not sure which animal he fell from, because I doubt if the Bible says that.

But in my opinion he fell from the ‘height of self-righteousness!’”

Quite true, isn’t it?

St Paul indeed had a fall…
… a fall from his “self-righteous” attitude…
… and rose up to a new lifestyle: “Total dependence on the Lord!”

This is the beautiful story of the conversion of St Paul…
… arguably one of the greatest missionaries of the Church!

[[The Bible, in fact, doesn’t mention any animal. The incident, however does highlight that it was noon time.

Catholic author Dr. Taylor Marshall refers in his book: “The Catholic Perspective on Paul” on the view that every day at noon, pious Jewish men recited prayers while standing on their feet and facing toward Jerusalem (cf. Dan. 6:10-11). It could be possible that Saul, the zealous Pharisee that he was, observed midday prayer on that day as he travelled along the road to Damascus. This would have meant that he was likely standing erect and facing south to Jerusalem when he was blinded by the light of Christ and fell to the ground!)]]

On this Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, there are several factors that we can meditate on, and learn from.

One of the very striking aspects is that of the Passion and Zeal of St Paul.

This passion was greatly reflected in all aspects of his life…
… in his preaching and his writings!
… in his dealing with the Gentiles and their cause of faith
… in his aggressiveness against anything that caused scandal and harm to the Church
… in his uncompromising attitude towards anything that endangered his relationship with the Lord!

Some of his writings in the letters reflect this aspect of Passion and Zeal:

“Woe to me, if I don’t preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16)
“I count everything as a loss for Christ…” (Phil 3:8)
“My preaching… was a demonstration of the Spirit and power” (1 Cor 2:4)

We need to ask of ourselves:

Is my Christian life, filled with passion and zeal?
Do I burn with love for God and His Kingdom?
Does the Lord and His Will come first, in my life?

It’s easy to often remain on the “theoretical” dimension of Christian life!

Many times we have many discussions and deliberations about faith
… but don’t involve ourselves in spending time in prayer daily or living a life in the Holy Spirit and being guided by His Presence

Many times we hear many Christian talks or read many books on Christian life
… but hardly make efforts to grow in the Christian virtues or to improve our Sacramental Life

Many times we nurture doubts about Christianity, to “know more”…
… but fail to humble ourselves, to grow in our relationship with the Lord and loving Him more

The Feast of the Conversion of St Paul is a mighty reminder to all of us…
… to live our Christian lives “passionately and zealously!”

And this passion and zeal can come only if we allow ourselves, to be thrown down from the ‘height of self-righteousness’

St Paul had to experience this “falling down”

His self-righteousness had caused him…
… to persecute everyone who professed Christ and to eliminate them!
… to be blinded to Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life!

Therefore, “a fall from the height of self-righteousness” was necessary…
… so that he could rise to a new lifestyle: “Total dependence on the Lord!”

And so, with much confidence, he would declare later in his life: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21)

In our lives, we also will experience many moments of “falls”…
… troubles, hardships, rejection, misunderstandings, humiliations

But let us not be discouraged
… Rather, “rise up” in all such situations to “totally depend on the Lord!”

May the zeal and passion of St Paul inspire all of us to live in total dependency on the Lord.

May we give deeper heed to his words of exhortation to each one of us:
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy…
… make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. >> Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus!” (Phil 2:1-5)

Discovering the beauty of the Catholic Church through the Catechism:
The divine plan of Revelation is realized simultaneously “by deeds and words which are intrinsically bound up with each other” and shed light on each another.

It involves a specific divine pedagogy: God communicates himself to man gradually.
He prepares him to welcome by stages the supernatural Revelation…

… that is to culminate in the person and mission of the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ!” (CCC #53)

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