Celebrating the Year of St. Paul
June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009 marks the Year of St. Paul, in celebration of the 2,000th anniversary of Saint Paul's birth. In particular, we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on Jan. 25, recalling the conversion of Saul of Tarsus from a persecutor of Christians to Paul, the Christian we have come to know as St. Paul.
Paul's conversion, which took place on the road to Damascus, may be one of the most moving experiences recorded in the early annals of the Church. (Acts 9,1-19; 22.3-16) Following his conversion, St. Paul became the greatest missionary of his time.
Conversion is considered one of the core elements of Christianity. It doesn't involve a mere switching from one religious identity to another but literally turning around, "going the other way." That is, the attainment of salvation through Christian conversion, entails turning away from sin and beginning a new life with the Lord. Saul of Tarsus who sinned, repented, then accepted and followed Jesus as the world's saviour and redeemer demonstrated this experience clearly. In his many writings, St. Paul offers salvation and hope through faith in Jesus Christ.
In these modem times where many nations and peoples face disconcerting situations, St. Paul's message of hope is timely and appropriate. An act of hope is seen as an essential foundation to tolerance, responsibility, and even self-sufficiency.
Similarly, in prayer the faithful express great hope that their desire to enter the kingdom of God and live in eternal happiness with Him is will be fulfilled. Hope, nonetheless, should be accompanied by faith and informed by love so that prayers may be heard. It is the presence of hope in our prayers that gives promise that sooner or later God will respond and that which is longed for will be ours. We hope and trust that our desires will be fulfilled through God's grace in His own time.
This Year of St. Paul is yet another challenge. St. Paul, the missionary, encourages us to stand up, spread the word of God, and triumph over evil. Followers of Christ are called to be hopeful, to be better persons, and to be sincere in offering themselves in love to the Father.
By Luella Sadicon