Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter
(Acts 7:51-8:1a; John 6:30-35)
A man sends a Twitter message: “As Pope Francis said today: ‘I am a sinner.’ There is something cathartic about saying that to yourself. We should all try it.” St. Paul seems to have said that often enough with astonishing results.
Paul is introduced in the Acts of the Apostles with today’s reading. He is, of course, the “Saul” who witnesses St. Stephen’s execution. (Paul, by the way, is not the Hebrew word for Saul but most likely the saint’s name given at birth and Saul the name he used in Jewish company.) No doubt, the experience of seeing Stephen executed affected Paul profoundly. At first, he wanted to see all followers of Jesus dispatched in a similar way. Upon meditation of Stephen’s blessing while be stoned, however, Paul surely wondered about the grace that could allow a man to forgive those who were killing him.
As Pope Francis indicates, all of us sin. But this does not mean that we are not to overcome sin with the grace of Christ. Acknowledging ourselves as sinners is the first step in the process. Then we need to pray for help and finally to act on the grace God offers us to reject temptation.