As of tonight (Rome Time), the Pope has inaugurated the Holy Year of St. Paul. It is possible during this year to gain a plenary indulgence by going on pilgrimage and visiting the site of St. Paul’s beheading (Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls) for details visit Fr. Z. (http://wdtprs.com/blog).
To me, St. Paul is an interesting figure. Unlike some of the other apostles, we know a lot of information about him that comes from his epistles and his closest disciple, Luke. He was a tent maker, a Pharisee who ruthlessly persecuted the Church, and one who zealously wandered the entire eastern portion of the Roman world preaching the Good News. He was also an advocate for the Gentiles in the Church and a man who was even taken up into the third heaven. All of this is a testimony to his personality. Indeed, his conversion completely transformed him to the point where he gave up his own blood for Christ.
It makes sense too to place St. Paul’s feast day together with that of St. Peter. In some ways, the two greatest apostles complement each other. St. Peter is one of the most human of the disciples of Jesus. The guy that seems to have put his foot in his mouth more times than we can count. Yet he was also a man that experienced God’s forgiveness and also the one out of the twelve Apostles that was told the Church would be built on him. From the beginning, he was the apostle’s leader.
On the other hand, St. Paul too was a leader in his own way. He took the mission of the Apostles and spread it to the farthest reaches of the world that he could think of. Of course, the other Apostles went on missions too. Some of them went as far as Armenia and Persia, while St. Thomas made it all the way to India. Yet St. Paul’s writings clearly convey to us the message that he spread among the earliest Christians, a message that was founded on Christ.
He believed that in God there was no distinction between Jew and Greek, circumcised and uncircumcised. In essence, his message was universal and true because it had come from Truth Itself.
Let us pray to St. Paul then to grant us greater devotion during the coming year.