Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am writing this on the Feast of St. Paul the Apostle, our Cursillo Patron. As we plan this new year ahead of us, there is no saint better to pattern our lives after. More than anyone else, Paul demonstrated to us all of the best character and virtue of which we are capable. He embraced each new day as another chance to serve Jesus Christ with more eagerness than the day before, despite the dangers that threatened him.
Paul summed up his attitude in this: “I forget what is behind me and go forward to what lies ahead.” When he thought death was imminent, he told others to share his joy: “Rejoice and be glad with me.” And when he faced danger, abuse and unjust treatment, he said: “I am content with weakness, mistreatment and persecution,” (for when I am weak, it is then that I am strong).
Paul was continually beaten, abused and cursed, and he wore all that he endured on his person as if a badge of honor, that he had been given the opportunity to give glory to Jesus Christ, for whom he suffered. He did not complain about the abuse, but offered thanks to God for it all saying “thanks be to God who is always victorious in us.”
The only thing that St. Paul truly worried about, the one focus of his life, was pleasing God. The most important thing of all to him, however, was that he knew he was loved by Christ.
He relished Jesus’ love and he considered himself happier than anyone else in the world. And if he were without Jesus’ love, nothing in the world could take its place. He preferred that love and being the least of all in the world, to any other friendships or honors. To be without that love, in his eyes, would by itself have been hell and endless, unbearable torture. Being loved by Christ, Paul thought of himself as possessing life itself and all that the world contains.
Paul put no value in the things of this visible world, any more than we would on weeds or rocks. He paid no attention to people in positions of power and influence, or those who resisted his efforts to spread the gospel and the love of Christ.
Frustrations, resistance, sickness, torments, pain and death itself were nothing to him, as long as he might bear some burden for the sake of Christ. Whether preaching, traveling or restrained in a narrow prison, “Paul dwelt in heaven.”
We should not simply admire St. Paul, but also imitate this shining example of virtue. “In thinking of Paul we should not consider only his noble and lofty virtues or the strong and ready will that disposed him for such great graces. We should also realize that he shares our nature in every respect. If we do, then even what is very difficult will seem to us easy and light; we shall work hard during the short time we have on earth and someday we shall wear the incorruptible, immortal crown. This we shall do by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom all glory and power belong, now and always through endless ages. Amen.”
(St. John Chrysostom, Posted Jan. 26, 2021, Cross Roads Init., Hom. 2 de laudibus Sancti Pauli: PG 50, 477-484)
Deacon. Denny Scherger