ܕܡܪܥܝܬܐ ܕܐܘܚܕ̈ܢܐ ܡܥܪ̈ܒܝܐ ܕܐܡܝܪܟܐ
|St. Paul the Apostle, June 29|
Bishop of Rome, and founder
of the Holy See of Roman Catholic.
St. Paul the Apostle, was born in Tarsus two years before the advent of the Savior. He was a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. He was well learned in the Law of the Torah, and he was zealous for it. He persecuted the Christians. Paul was guarding the clothes of those who were stoning St. Stephen.
Saul's Conversion and Preaching
It is written in the Acts 9: 1-19:
“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads." So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
Ananias Baptizes Saul
Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight." Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.” (Acts 9:1-19).
St. Paul, the indefatigable Apostle of the Gentiles, who converted from Judaism on the road to Damascus, remained some days in Damascus after his Baptism, and then went to Arabia, possibly for a year or two to prepare himself for his future missionary activity. Having returned to Damascus, he stayed there for a time, preaching in the synagogues that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. For this he incurred the hatred of the Jews and had to flee from the city. He then went to Jerusalem to see Peter.
Later, he went back to his native Tarsus, where he began to evangelize his own province until called by Barnabas to Antioch. After one year, on the occasion of a famine, both Barnabas and Paul were sent with alms to the poor Christian community at Jerusalem. Having fulfilled their mission, they returned to Antioch.
Soon after this, Paul and Barnabas made the first missionary journey, visiting the island of Cypress, then Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia, all in Asia Minor, and establishing churches at Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe.
After the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem, Paul, accompanied by Silas and later also by Timothy and Luke, made his second missionary journey, first revisiting the churches previously established by him in Asia Minor, and then passing through Galatia. At Troas, a vision of a Macedonian was had by Paul, which impressed him as a call from God to evangelize in Macedonia. He accordingly sailed for Europe, and preached the Gospel in Philippi. Thessalonica, Beroea, Athens, and Corinth. Then he returned to Antioch by way of Ephesus and Jerusalem.
On his third missionary journey, Paul visited nearly the same regions as on the second trip, but made Ephesus, where he remained nearly three years, the center of his missionary activity. He laid plans also for another missionary journey, intending to leave Jerusalem for Rome and Spain. Persecutions by the Jews hindered him from accomplishing his purpose. After two years of imprisonment at Caesarea, he finally reached Rome, where he was kept another two years in chains.
The Acts of the Apostles gives us no further information on the life of the Apostle. We gather, however, from the Pastoral Epistles and from tradition that at the end of the two years St. Paul was released from his Roman imprisonment, and then traveled to Spain, later to the East again, and then back to Rome, where he was imprisoned a second time by Nero and in the year A. D. 67, was beheaded.
St. Paul’s untiring interest in and paternal affection for the churches established by him, have given us fourteen canonical Epistles. It is, however, quite certain that he wrote other letters which are no longer extant. In his Epistles, St. Paul shows himself to be a profound religious thinker and he has had an enduring formative influence in the development of Christianity. The centuries only make more apparent his greatness of mind and spirit. His feast day is June 29th.
God wrought by the hands of Peter and Paul many great signs and wonders, that they even carried the sick out into the streets ... that as Peter came by ... his shadow might fall on them ... and they were all healed (Acts 5:15). The handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from Paul's body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them (Acts 19:12).
Many of us can see both these great Apostles in ourselves. Like Peter, we sometimes fail but yet persevere. Like Paul, we must always be on fire for the Lord, and proclaim Him to everyone and in every situation, no matter how difficult it can sometimes be to do so.
May his prayer be with us, and Glory be to God forever. Amen