Friday of the Third Week of Easter
(Acts 9:1-20; John 6:52-59)
Paul is so central to the establishment of Christianity that the story of his conversion is told three times in the Acts of the Apostles. The accounts differ in details but all convey the central point: Paul was called directly by the Lord to missionary service.
Interestingly, Jesus did not choose Paul because of his preaching ability. Paul himself disclaims any charism for proclaiming orally the word of God. However, his gifts of theological profoundness and willingness to suffer make him a great missionary. There is another factor, however, that contributed even more to Paul’s accomplishments. Today’s reading mentions it. Paul was “filled with the holy Spirit.” The Spirit provided the zeal with which Paul worked. More than that, it crowned all of Paul’s abilities and efforts with love of God and neighbor. Paul’s profundity and his long-suffering were so productive because he cared deeply for others.
The same Spirit, of course, is ours. It is bestowed as we enter the Church, the community of love. It grows when we come together to share Christ’s Flesh and Blood. Reversing the natural process, we become what we eat – more like our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today the Church remembers two saints who, like all others, testified to the power the Holy Spirit. St. Antoninus was the Dominican archbishop of Florence. He oversaw the religious affairs of the city at his historical moment of greatness at the beginning of the Renaissance. We also commemorate Fr. Damien, missionary to the lepers of Hawaii. He took care of the outcasts so selflessly that he became one himself.