Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
(Romans 8:31b-39; Luke 13:31-35)
When St. Paul writes of nothing separating the Christian from the love of Christ, he no doubt has his own experience in mind. He not only felt the existential pain of distancing himself from friends and -- who knows? – family when he left mainline Judaism but went on to endure torture and the miseries of third class travel in the first century. The latter included walking long distances and scaling mountains always with the fear of robbers. Or, as an alternative, Paul endured the misery of deck passage with the difficulties of cooking, resting, and relieving oneself. In all these trials he still felt the love of Jesus.
But Paul’s personal encounter with the resurrected Christ propelled him forward. It was not a spiritual experience but, as he wrote to the Corinthians, an appearance every bit as real as the one to the other apostles. The encounter engraved in Paul’s heart the love of Jesus for him so that he could endure hardships and eventual martyrdom.
We may wish for such a personal encounter with the Lord like Paul’s, but how many are ready to endure the trials that such an experience brought? We are grateful for the spiritual experiences of Christ that we have in the good people we meet and in the Eucharist we share with fellow believers.