‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Just one and hear his won voice speaking, because you are to be his witness before all mankind, testifying to what you have seen and heard.’ – Acts 22:15
A ConfessionI have a confession to make. I confess that I am not the most patient person in the world. I only see the worst in people. I see their repeated mistakes and conclude that they cannot change. I hear their words and conclude that they are bitter, wicked, vengeful and vulgar. I confess that many times I don’t give people a second chance to make a first impression. I often write them off on the very first instance. But then I remember that all the things I dislike about people I am often guilty of myself. And God hasn’t written me off yet. This tells me something I should take to heart: God is everything I am not. God sees the best in me even when I see the worst in myself. God sees the best in people even when I only see the worst in them. God sees the best in the world because He created the world good. I see the effects of sin and conclude that that’s the world has always been. And today I see an example of someone who was “beyond redemption” in my human estimation. But God singled him out and used him to create the greatest revolution in the world. The Christian revolution by which one man converted the known world. One man literally converted the whole world.That man was Saint Paul the Apostle.
Paul’s StoryHe was touched by Christ on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus. He was cured of his blindness by Ananias. He was baptised. After his confirmation by the Apostles, he travelled the length and breadth of the Roman empire, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to everyone he met: speaking to people, writing to them, travelling. This came at a cost. He was persecuted by Jews and Gentiles alike. He was stoned, shipwrecked a number of times, flogged and came to the point of despair but never gave up. He continued to work for the Lord. He did everything to the glory of God. When he sensed he was nearly his end, he said, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’ (2Tim 4:7). What awaited him is the crown of justice which Christ will give to him. He didn’t give up until he was spent for the Lord.
LessonsThis teaches me two things: Firstly, God sees the best in us and we should give Him our best. He sees the best in me so I should give Him nothing short of my very best. Secondly, God sees the best in the world and concludes that we can be redeemed. Jesus in the Gospel tells us that everyone in the world is a subject of the Kingdom of God. So we should go out and call them. He tells us ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. Those who believe and are baptised will be saved. Those who do not believe will be condemned’ (Mk 16:15). Someone once asked me, ‘If God would not permit anyone to enter into heaven unless they are baptised, why didn’t he make everyone Christian?’ Christ wants us to share in his mission. Wherever there are people who do not believe in God, we have a duty to bring them into the kingdom of God. Wherever there are people who are losing faith, we must be on hand to encourage and strengthen them. Wherever people are vengeful and malicious, we must be on hand to give them examples of how to live differently. We ought to live for nothing less than God’s glory. This is your mission in the world.
PrayerMay Saint Paul who did great things in his time inspire us to do greater things in our own day with all at our disposal, with our technology, transportation, means of communication, so that everyone in the world will come ultimately into God’s kingdom through Christ our Lord.
Today’s ReadingsActs 22:3-16; Ps 117:1,2; Mk 16:15-18
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