This week in Scripture we meet Paul, also known by his Jewish name Saul. He was well-educated in Judaism and Greco-Roman philosophy. And he was a firebrand, a rabid persecutor of Christians. Paul was suddenly blinded by a light. That awesome visionary experience of Jesus, once crucified and now risen, turned Paul’s life upside down.
|Caravaggio's Conversion of St. Paul|
I am grateful to God for our Catholic faith community. Here are a few good reasons:
We are a worldwide community of believers: one billion plus people, men and women of all shades of language, race and color, rich and poor, black and white, American, European, Asian and African, charismatic and traditional, an incredibly diverse family that “celebrates the presence of the Risen Jesus.” My favorite image of the Church is Peter's fishing “boat.” We're on a journey—together--with a map, lots of stormy weather, people slipping overboard, survivors being pulled in, mutinies, getting off course, being attacked. Yet what Peter and his crew managed to do has lasted two thousand years. Jesus is our good shepherd who cares for us as we navigate the twists and turns of life on our journey toward our heavenly home.
We are a community with splendid heroes and heroines. We know the litany of saints. These men and women lived the beatitudes. They were spiritually hungry for God; asked for forgiveness and forgave; were sincere; strove to bring peace; expected nothing in return. They challenge us to live the beatitudes.
We are a community that attempts to meet the basic needs of people, especially the poor. There's an old hymn that I’ll paraphrase: Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today; He has no feet but our feet to lead people in His way; He has no voice but our voice to tell people why He died; He has no help but our help to lead folks to His side. We are the “mystical body of Christ.”
We are human beings. And not everyone is as good as we would like. Yet the Word of God invites us to thank God for our faith community: a community that calls us to be in relationship with God. For that is the purpose of life: to be in relationship with God here and beyond our earthly life.