Posted by: akostecka | June 29, 2008

Anno Paolino

What a wonderful gift of St. Paul we are celebrating this year!   Beginning today, June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, we celebrate a Jubilee Year of St. Paul.  Pope Benedict XVI has declared this feast year to commemorate 2000 years of St. Paul; he is said to have been born between 7 and 10 AD.  PBXVI has delivered rich catechesis on St. Paul 

This is an awesome opportunity to join with our separated brothers and sisters to focus on the essential Jesus that St. Paul proclaimed.  PBXVI is really taking this eccumenical thing to heart by making it an important focus of the year as shown by the opening of this Jubilee year from Asia News:

“Bring us back together again, from all our divisions”: Benedict XVI’s prayer for Christian unity marked today’s opening of the Pauline Year, which is intended to celebrate the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of the apostle to the gentiles.  The desire for unity was also expressed in the few words spoken by ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew, after the pope.  With them, as a concrete image of the journey of ecumenism, was a representative of the archbishop of Canterbury, who was unable to attend the ceremony, and of other Christian churches and communities, and patriarchs of the Eastern Churches, including that of Russia.

What I love about this more than anything, though, is the insistance on our PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP TO CHRIST!  And how do Catholics need to hear this message ever more, especially in light of the Pew report of late that states Only 60% of self-described US adult Catholics can clearly affirm that they believe in a personal God with whom it is possible to have a relationship.  Here is what the Pope says on the subject, so please listen (again from Asia News):

“Who is Paul?” This is the question that the Pauline Year, in the words of Benedict XVI, addresses to us today.  “Teacher of the gentiles, apostle and proclaimer of Jesus Christ”, the pope recalled, “this is how he characterises himself in a retrospective look at the course of his life.  But with this, our attention is not directed only to the past. ‘Teacher of the gentiles’ – this title is open to the future, to all peoples and all generations.  Paul is not for us [only] a figure of the past, whom we recall with veneration.  He is also a teacher, apostle and proclaimer of Jesus Christ for us as well.  We have therefore gathered not to reflect on a history left behind forever.  Paul wants to speak with us – today”.

“In the letter to the Galatians”, he continued, “he provided for us a very personal profession of faith, in which he opens his heart to the reader of all times, and reveals the deep driving force of his life. ‘I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me’ (Gal. 2:20).  Everything that Paul does begins from this centre. His faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ in a completely personal way; it is the awareness of the fact that Christ has faced death not for some anonymous person, but out of love for him – for Paul –  and that, as the Risen One, he still loves him.  Christ has given  himself for him.  His faith comes from being transfixed by the love of Jesus Christ, a love that shakes him to his core and transforms him.  His faith is not a theory, an opinion about God and the world.  His faith is the impact of the love of God on his heart.  And thus his faith is itself love for Jesus Christ”.

“This love is now the ‘law’ of his life, and in this very way it is the freedom of his life.  He speaks and acts on the basis of the responsibility of love.  Freedom and responsibility are here united in an inseparable way.  Because he stands in the responsibility of love, he is free; because he is someone who loves, he lives completely in the responsibility of this love and does not take freedom as the pretext for willfulness and egoism”.

In the “search for the interior physiognomy of St Paul”, Benedict XVI then evoked the words that Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”, in order to highlight how in these words there is an “identification” between Christ and his Church.  It is “the Lord himself”, then, who asks: “How could you have lacerated my body? Before the face of Christ, this word becomes at the same time an urgent request: Bring us back together again, from all our divisions.  Make this a reality again today: there is only one bread, because we, although we are many, are only one body”.

Wow.  What a message.  Thank you, Jesus for this message!  May many hearts turn to you and stay ever closer to you through St. Paul as they have for 2000 years!

 

 

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