Reflection on the readings for Friday, May 5: Acts 13:26-33, Psalm 2:6-11; John 14:1-6
Today’s reading from Acts struck me. Here was Paul, newly converted, preaching the very Gospel he had tried to snuff out. A zealous Pharisee, the once-named Saul made it his life’s mission to persecute Christians as a means of defending the Jewish faith.
Struck down on the road to Damascus by the One he truly persecuted, Paul’s heart was changed as well as his mission.
Yet as I read his perfect preaching of the Gospel in a nutshell, I sense between the lines the dilemma he must have faced and the demons he had to put down to preach.
Paul’s regret over his past life must have tortured him at times, most especially when he preached. How many times must he had felt unworthy to even say the name of Jesus after the way he had treated His people!
Love conquers all
His love for Jesus had to be overpowering to overcome such regret. His faith in the Spirit to lead him away from his guilt which had been forgiven had to be very deep.
While it is known that Paul had a thorn in his side (perhaps a medical issue), surely this guilt that haunted him again and again, was a thorn also. It was a thorn perhaps even more painful than the one he wrote about.
Nobody had more reason to shrink away from preaching the Gospel than the man who had so cruelly persecuted the disciples of Jesus. And yet, that memory of and faith in the forgiveness graciously given to him by Jesus was the means by which he could preach.
What excuse, therefore, do I have to shrink away from sharing Jesus with others? I am a sinner. I may not have persecuted Christians, but I have been ashamed of the Gospel, caring more for what people thought of me than sharing my love of Jesus with them. When I listen to Christian music at work, how often do I instinctively turn it down, or off, when a co-worker comes into the office? Why do I do that?
Eyes fixed on the prize
Paul was running a marathon on the strength of his love of Jesus. He would not stop until he reached the finish line. He had heaven fully in his sight and never took his eyes off of it. Being with the Lord overrode any leftover guilt or weakness.
My guilt is no less and therefore the forgiveness offered is no less powerful. St. Paul, run with me and remind me that if you were able to overcome your demons because of your love, I can too.