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St. Paul The Catholic Apostle

Have you ever wondered why the church thinks St. Paul is so important? There are a number of reasons, of course, but to my mind his importance can be traced back to a moment in which the church became universal – catholic. In  50A.D.,  the church opened to non-Jews, to the world of the Gentiles. In particular, with open arms, it welcomed those who lived in the Greco-Roman world. One can hardly overemphasize the importance of that event and the pivotal role that Paul played in that dramatic moment. Ever since then, the Catholic Church has been a missionary church, a worldwide church.

Because I cannot give you a little word capsule that adequately conveys what happened in that Council of Jerusalem, I ask you to go to your New Testament and read chapters 10 and 15 in the Book of Acts. As you read those accounts give your imagination over into picturing yourself as one of the participants and a witness to what transpired. That’s the best way of “seeing” what happened. Pay particular attention to the dynamic relationship between St. Peter and St. Paul and the roles they played.

Peter and Paul, as you know, eventually took the church to Rome where they were martyred. The Christian church did not remain settled in Jerusalem or in the Middle East.  St. Paul did not remain settled in any particular place or region. God had big plans for him; God had big plans for his church. Because Paul responded so generously to God’s call we now worship God and receive Christ’s Body and Blood, thanks to St. Paul, in a worldwide church.

One can bring to mind famous people in the history of the world:, Julius Caesar, Queen Cleopatra, Genghis Kahn, Christopher Columbus, and so on. But surpassing them all in importance is Jesus Christ, followed by St. Peter and St. Paul. Were it not for St. Paul, in all likelihood there would not have been a Catholic Church.

St. Paul is known as The Great Evangelizer, the one who brought the message of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. You and I are likewise evangelizers. What we receive at Mass we are to take out into the world that surrounds us, bringing with us, in what we do and in what we say, the presence of Jesus. Call upon St. Paul in your prayers to give you the courage, the wisdom, and the words to do what he did, and bring others to know the happiness and joy of living with the spirit of Christ within us in his sacraments.