Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bearers of the Light

The Pauline Year which began on June 28th, 2008 will come to a close on June 29th, 2009. Pope Benedict has declared a Year for Priests beginning on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, June 19th, 2009. That means that the Pauline Year and the Year for Priests will overlap for 10 days. I heard excellent talks on St. Paul during the Pauline Year and some of that information was helpful to me, for a project I recently completed on St. Paul. I still did my own research on St. Paul and one thing I learned is the importance of light in the life of  St. Paul.
Paul's conversion experience on the road to Damascus was an extraordinary religious experience. Saul (Paul's Hebrew name),  was an observant Pharisee and very committed to his faith and yet he undergoes a sudden, radical change of focus, heart and mission. I quote from Acts of the Apostles (26) when Paul explains to King Agippa and Herod the following, On one such occasion I was traveling to Damascus with the authorization and commission of the chief priests. At midday, along the way, O king, I saw a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my traveling companions. We all fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me'? And I said, 'Who are you, sir'? And the Lord replied, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.' 
Light is an important element in Paul's experience of Jesus. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, light was a phenomenon which meant the power and presence of God. God was said to be clothed with light (Ps. 104). Those who walked in light were regarded as upright. Paul's experience, in terms of light was an authentic experience with a divine presence. Later Paul would refer to the gosepl as light and to believers as children of the light. Jesus is the light of the world
And so as this year devoted to the writings of St. Paul and the great St. Paul himself comes to a close and we begin the Year for Priests, I am mindful of the great witnesses we have who bring God's light to others. Whether they are canonized saints or ordinary hard-working people, either ordained or laypeople, they enable God's light to continue to penetrate the darkness. Their presence in the world has always filled me with hope.  
If you would like more information on the Year for Priests, the USCCB has a website for information, with a beautiful icon of Christ the Great High Priest, which can be used during this year.  The website is:

The Lord is my light and my salvation    (Psalm 26)

What consoles me is the thought that the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ will do everything for me.   St. Margaret Mary Alacoque