This upcoming Wednesday, January 25th is a very interesting feast day in our Church. We celebrate ‘The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle.’ I'm sure you're all familiar with the story of how Saul fell off his horse on the road to Damascus. If not, read Acts 9:1-22. It's interesting that a feast day is centered around a saint's conversion. Typically a feast day is about the saint's entire life, and is celebrated on the supposed date of the individual's death or birth. Paul does have another feast day—June 29th—but this particular event in Paul's life was so monumental the Church believed it necessary to give it a separate feast. Paul's conversion was a miracle and, arguably, the most important miracle in history. Without Paul Catholicism does not spread to Europe and broaden. It remains a progressive sect of Judaism confined to Palestine. Much of our set of beliefs, not to mention much of our Bible, does not exist without the man formerly known as Saul.
Paul is important on a macro level, yes, but he can also be a model for us personally. Life was not easy for Paul. He was beaten, slandered, imprisoned, exiled, shipwrecked, and, ultimately, beheaded. But he never quit the race. He never lost his zeal for preaching the truth. He constantly pleaded with the various groups he encountered to follow the ways of Christ. Just observe his passion in the opening line of our second reading today, his letter to the Corinthians: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose” (1 Cor 1:10). Unity was crucial for the early church, and Paul was adamant that Christians overcome their little differences and stay united.
Peter and Andrew, as we hear about in our Gospel account (cf. Matt 4:12-23), had the privilege of being called by Jesus while Jesus was still living. The apostles were able to be with our Lord physically. They could see him in action, hear his voice, witness his miracles, and admire his effect on the people. When Peter, later on in his ministry, encountered a difficulty, he could go back to his time with the Christ and recall what Jesus did, or would have done. Paul had no such luxury. He wasn't called by Jesus to discipleship until after the Ascension and he only saw our Lord in a fleeting vision. But this did not hold Paul back. He had a deep faith and trust in Jesus. Paul became one of the greatest, if the not the greatest, saint and apostle.
If discipleship does not come easy for you and if your faith brings you on hard times or makes you unpopular, then St. Paul is your man. Thank you, Paul, for getting up off your horse and following Jesus Christ.
During the homily time at all the Masses this weekend, the priest will be reading a letter from Cardinal Cupich about Renew My Church. The letter will be printed in next week's bulletin. Our grouping is: St. Juliana, St. Mary of the Woods, and Queen of All Saints. More to follow.
Last night, Saturday, was the Mother's Club Big Night Out in our gymnasium. The Mother's Club did a great job hosting a very fun evening. Thank you especially to the heads of the Mother's Club, Joanna Drzich and Marilyn Flood, for this party and for all the other activities, fundraisers, and services they provide for the school and parish.
Today, Sunday, January 22nd, is the 44th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Please keep in your prayers all victims of abortion. May we respect life from conception until natural death. The annual March for Life held in Washington DC is this Friday, January 27th. The Archdiocese of Chicago held its own March for Life here in the city last Sunday.
In between basketball games, I'll look forward to meetings this week with a variety of our parish groups, including the Pastoral Council, Missionary Spirit Team, and the Senior Networking Group.
Finally, we are in the middle of the Week of Christian Unity. The week began last Wednesday and ends, fittingly, on January 25th. We pray that all Christian dominations may overcome their differences and be united in the one Church of Jesus Christ—something St. Paul would have wanted.
Yours in Christ,