5 May 2015
It must have been quite a shock for St. Paul. I mean, almost getting stoned to death is one thing. But the ones who did it had been his friends not too long before. They were fellow Jews, fellow believers in the One God. But between them and God, St. Paul chose God. It was a tough choice, perhaps. But it was also an overwhelmingly positive and even joyful choice, for sure.
Jesus describes his own going back to the Father as a happy occasion. He’s choosing the Father over his disciples, his friends. But it’s a happy thing to put God first. And so, it’s also a joyful thing for St. Paul to choose newness of life in God over his former ways of error. Even at the expense of his friendships with other Jews, he relishes in his choice.
As we know: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.” Happy are those—happy are we—who choose to follow God, even—and especially—when it’s hard. We will experience pain in our souls when others think we’re nuts because we follow Jesus Christ. We will experience the weight of insults piled on top of us if we try to stand up for our Catholic values.
But the pain of being a Christian, the pain of choosing God over friends, is outweighed by the joy of being a Christian, the joy of choosing God, who is our Friend of friends. And, of course, choosing God doesn’t necessarily mean leaving friends behind.
On the contrary, bring ‘em along, if you can! It’s a happy thing to unite ourselves more closely to the Lord. Why not invite others to share your joy? Of course, if they decline, if they think you’re nuts for asking, well . . . pray for them in all charity. And then keep on choosing God; every day, choosing the ways of peace and unity; every day, choosing the path of joy.