Today, as we commemorate the Conversion of St. Paul, it’s difficult to author any constructive commentary without copiously quoting from the Apostle to the Gentiles. Where would we even begin? I’ve heard at least one Catholic writer refer to the epistles of St. Paul as “above scrutiny,” both in terms of literary perfection and spiritual depth.
As we’ve all come to expect, Pope Benedict has a plethora of insight for this occasion. During the year of St. Paul, he conducted a series of Wednesday audiences that focused on different aspects of the life and legacy of St. Paul. In the general audience of September 10, 2008, the Holy Father shared St. Paul’s view of “Apostolate.” There are three aspects of being an apostle which Pope Benedict gleans from the writings of St. Paul:
1. One must have a personal and life-changing encounter with Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 9:1).
2. The apostle must be dispatched, or sent out, becoming “an ambassador and bearer of a message…representing [his] sender.” (cf. 1 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; Rom. 1:1).
3. Lastly, the title of apostle “is not and cannot be honary”–it requires commitment to proclaiming the Gospel with one’s very life. (cf. 1 Cor. 9:1; 2 Cor. 3:2-3).
The good news is that (hopefully) the Lord doesn’t have to strike each of us blind in order to get the maximum response He desires. Spiritual giants, such as St. Paul, have paved the way and offered us the fruit of their labors. In our work in the CUF apostolate, and indeed in all apostolic work, we must continuously reorient ourselves to these principles outlined by St. Paul.
The bottom line is, it’s all about Christ.
This is but one page from The St. Paul Guide to Everything, but consider it the most basic foundation for being an apostle of Christ. If we are following Him in our work, we must not be discouraged but always remember who we represent.
“For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord’” (1 Cor. 1:26-31).