Reflection on today’s readings (May 23, 2012) Acts 20:28-38; Psalm 68:29-30,33-36, John 17:11-19
Many women do not like St. Paul. I am not one of them.
Ever since I asked St. Paul to intercede for me for a special need (more on that in a moment), I have found myself reflecting on his life, his writings, and his enormous contribution to Christianity.
From Acts Chapter 20
Today’s reading from Acts moved me deeply. I found myself welling up as I imagined Paul’s impassioned plea to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus. Knowing they would never see them again, they wept openly, throwing their arms around him and kissing him.
Any mother knows the pain of an empty nest when the son or daughter leaves home for the last time. You struggle to hold it in so you won’t embarrass yourself and often times you just can’t help it. I had said what I thought was the final goodbye a few times to my son, first when he went off to college and lastly, when he moved to a neighboring town. That last time was especially hard. Now he is moving out of state at the end of the summer and I haven’t dared to begin thinking about that yet!
What I love about St. Paul is his commitment, love and fortitude. This man emptied himself each and every day out of love for his Lord, but also for love of the people he was sent to minister to. There was never any hesitation. He never pulled back, never worried about what others would think of him. He was focused only on pleasing his Lord.
Knowing who you are
Paul was fully aware of what he had been. He had been forgiven of some pretty horrendous sins and he never forgot to be grateful for the privilege of carrying the Good News. That gratefulness acted like gasoline on the fire of his love.
A special intercessor
I especially love St. Paul’s focus and the example he uses of the marathon runner with the eye on the prize. About a year ago, for some reason, I asked St. Paul to intercede for me for a very specific intention. I asked him to run beside me whenever I found myself stuck in traffic when I desperately needed to relieve myself. Because of a medical condition, this happens frequently. The pain is unlike any I’ve known and the emotional distress makes the pain more acute.
At the first sign of trouble, I call upon St. Paul to run beside me and we run together. Taking on his focus, my emotions are controlled and the pain is less acute. As a result of these encounters, I have developed an affection for St. Paul which has caused me to read more carefully the extraordinary writings which built on the foundation of our faith.
Empty, and beautiful
It is no wonder that the presbyters at Ephesus felt such a strong connection with Paul who, for 3 years, had spent his life for them. Each day, he was empty, and beautiful.
And I think of that man, that saint, running beside me, comforting me in my little trouble. How good our God is to provide these wonderful saints for us!
Matt Maher, a Christian singer and songwriter, recorded a wonderful song about St. Paul that he called Empty and Beautiful. As you watch the video below, think on today’s reading and the man who knew exactly who he was and what had been given to him. He knew too what to give back and why.