6 May 2016
Saint Paul was a pretty zealous person. Before his conversion, he had no problem going after the Christians with great vigor. And after he’d been blinded by the Light of Christ, he was still just as vigorous—only then as a zealous supporter of Christ. If there’s one image of Saint Paul we carry with us, it’s an image of a powerful, confident preacher of the gospel.
And so, it seems odd that Jesus had to tell Paul to “be not afraid. Go on speaking . . . no one will attack and harm you . . . for I am with you.” It just seems odd that Jesus would say that to him. But maybe in doing that, Jesus is trying to show us—today—that even a powerful preacher such as Saint Paul needed encouragement and strength from God.
If Saint Paul needed Christ’s help, we can pretty much bet that we’re going to need it as well. Jesus knows very well that, in sending us out to share God’s message of love and mercy, he’s not asking us to do something that’s easy. He’s asking us to do something difficult—and he knows that. And so, he says to us as well: “Be not afraid. Go on speaking . . . no one will attack and harm you . . . for I am with you.”
Of course, it’s a test of our trust in God. It’s a test of our trust that Jesus is right when he says: “You will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” Spreading the gospel—being the presence of Christ to others—isn’t always easy. But Jesus says, “Trust me. It’ll turn out well, even if it’s uncomfortable right now. Your grief will become joy."
Saint Paul was a zealous preacher of the gospel. But he was even more zealous in his trust in God’s wisdom. May we follow his example, and go out and “be Christ” to others—with peace, strength from God, and joy.