This is still St. Paul’s year. As of late, we have been ignoring him shamefully.
Or, rather, we should say: Acts 13 contains his first recorded missionary sermon.
As we recall: Saul was on his way from Jerusalem to Antioch in Syria when the Lord Jesus spoke to him from heaven. When Saul arrived in the Antioch, he was baptized.
A long time passed: Paul went into the desert. He visited Jerusalem and the disciples there. Then he went home to Tarsus. Barnabas came to get him and bring him back to Antioch in Syria (the place where believers in Christ were first called Christians).
From Syria, Paul and Barnabas were sent to do the Lord’s work. Only time would tell exactly what that work was to be.
The hand of Providence brought them back to Asia Minor, west of St. Paul’s hometown. They were in the region known as Galatia. They ascended mountain peaks to reach the Pisidian plateau. When he was a boy growing up in a port city, Saul had heard of the highlands of Pisidia, but he had never been there. Antioch in Pisidia was 3,600 feet above sea level.
Paul and Barnabas came to a colony of retired Roman soldiers, members of the Celtic legion, from the province of Gaul (France). This legion’s coat-of-arms was emblazoned with a lark. Their city had the same name as the Syrian city from which the two apostles had set out.
Paul began working as a tent-maker, his long-time trade. On the sabbath, he and Barnabas went to the synagogue.
The synagogue was full of Jews–and Romans and others who believed in the God of the Jews. These people knew that the religion of Israel was the one source of sobriety in a drunken pagan world. They had heard of St. John the Baptist. They were waiting for the Messiah.
It was not uncommon for traveling experts in the Law of Moses to speak in synagogues. First-century synagogues did not have resident rabbis. The synagogue official was simply a care-taker who looked after the scrolls of the Torah and prophets.
Most likely, the people in this synagogue had listened before to traveling preachers tell them that the Messiah had come. There were a number of false Messiahs around the time of Christ.
Thus began Paul’s missionary preaching career. Before that career came to an end, it produced:
A score of local churches. Countless Christians. Half of the New Testament. Insights so profound that they will be studied until the end of time. And one of the greatest of all the saints, the one St. Thomas Aquinas called the Apostle.
If you are looking for something to do to give the Apostle his props before his Year comes to an end on June 29, you could order and read this book:
This book has helped me enormously this year…
Tomorrow Archbishop Raymond L. Burke will be in Washington to speak at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.
Hopefully those of us who cannot attend the breakfast will be able to read his speech after he gives it. It will certainly be worth reading.
Also, tomorrow our Holy Father departs Rome for the Holy Land!
…If you are interested in the unfair treatment which Miss California has received, click here for an informative column…
…And maybe the new Star Trek movie will actually be good!