Paulist Reflections The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul January 25, 2015 An Excerpt from “Paul the Missionary” By Frank DeSiano CSP Introduction by Rev. Paul Robichaud CSP:
In this essay taken from Paulist Tom Kane’s All You Holy Men and Women: A Paulist Litany of Saints (New York: Paulist Press, 2014) Paulist FrankDeSiano CSP describes the Apostle Paul as a missionary bringing the message of God’s free and absolute love. The Apostle was swept away by it in his conversion. DeSiano writes, “Do we not have to experience what Paul did? Do we not have to be swept up and away by this empowering love? Do we not have to let this love sear our eyes until they view the world as saturated by divine love.” Father DeSiano challenges us as members of the Paulist family to experience radical conversion. To explore this further read the entire chapter by Father DeSiano and the document on Paulist Radical Conversion from the 2014 Paulist General Assembly.
Father Frank DeSiano CSP writes:
Paul’s message of grace – God’s totally free and gracious bestowal of absolute love – becomes both the message and the method of Paul. Grace basically means that we are wrapped up in a field of unlimited love. Love has to expand its circle or else it is not love. Love has to be passionate, embracing , open and persistent. It has to be “all things to all people.”
Paul missionary per excellence, can give us a very respectable way to speak about mission; its all about God’s grace. God’s unrestricted love show in the work, death and resurrection or Jesus Christ, and given to the world through the Spirit. This is what God has done, whether people know it or not, whether people can see it or not. The missionary’s task is not to berate people he or she has already judged, but to open up people to the signs of divine love already in their lives, and already working in the world.
We look at Paul from today’s vantage point; a world teaming with diversity, full of great dreams and dashed hopes, replete with opportunities for coming together or falling apart. In some ways the fundamental insight of Paul – that it is all about God’s generous and unlimited love – is a message the world has barely begun to hear. One can be passionate about grace and one can insist upon it for humankind, but how can anyone make a point of division, of violence, or separation? For centuries right up to the Second Vatican Council, Catholic and non-Catholic Christians saw the possibility of salvation for others in only begrudging ways.
Do we not have to experience what Paul did? Do we not have to be swept up and away by this empowering love? Do we not have to let this love sear our eyes until they view the world as saturated by divine love? Do we not have to let this love break open the stony edges of our hearts until we love as God loves? Love can do funny things to us. It can make us jealous or nervous or persistent or petulant. The purer our experience of love, the more love purifies our motives, making us generous and kind and other-focused, and eager for the good of others, as Paul tells us in his hymn about love (1Cor13).
So in the end with all that love can make us, it can also make us missionaries, bearers of divine love to the world as generously and graciously as God has done this in Jesus, not resting until “God may be “all in all.” (1 Cor 15:28) that is until absolute love may be all in all.