I know in whom I have believed....

These words explain the whole of Paul's later life. He has known Christ, and from that moment on everything else is like a shadow in comparison to this ineffable reality. Nothing is of value any longer if it is not in Christ and through Christ. "The only thing he feared was to offend God; everything else was of no concern to him. For this very reason, the only thing he desired was to be faithful to his Lord and to make him known to all nations." What we desire; the only thing we want.

From the moment of his encounter with Jesus, Paul was converted to God with all his heart. The same eagerness that led him before to persecute the Christians, he now puts it, increased and strengthened by grace, in the service of the grandiose ideal that he has just discovered. He will make his own the message that the other Apostles received and that is contained in the Gospel of the Mass: Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to all creation. Paul accepted this commitment and made it, from that moment on, the reason for his life. "His conversion consisted precisely in this: in having accepted that Christ, whom he met on the road to Damascus, would enter into his life and direct it towards a single goal: the proclamation of the Gospel. I owe myself as much to the Greeks as to the barbarians, as much to the wise as to the ignorant..... I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of salvation for all who believe in it (Rom 1:13-16)".

I know in whom I have believed... For Christ he will face countless risks and dangers, he will continually overcome fatigue, weariness, the apparent failures of his mission, his fears, in order to win souls for God. Five times I received forty lashes minus one; three times I was flogged with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; one day and one night I was shipwrecked on the high seas; in my frequent journeys I suffered dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in cities, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brethren; labors and fatigues, frequent vigils, with hunger and thirst, in frequent fasting, in cold and nakedness; and besides other things, my daily responsibility: the solicitude for all the churches. Who faints without my fainting, and who has a stumbling block without my being overwhelmed with pain?1

Paul centered his life on the Lord. That is why, in spite of all that he suffered for Christ, he could say at the end of his life, when he found himself almost alone and somewhat abandoned: I abound and overflow with joy in all my afflictions.... Paul's happiness, like ours, was not in the absence of difficulties but in having found Jesus and in having served him with all his heart and all his strength.

We conclude this meditation with a prayer from the liturgy of the Mass: Lord, our God, you who have instructed all peoples through the preaching of St. Paul the Apostle, grant that we who celebrate his conversion may walk towards you, following his example, and be witnesses of your truth before the world. We ask our Blessed Mother Mary that we not let these very concrete graces that the Lord gives us pass us by so that, throughout our lives, we may return again and again to begin anew.

Hablar con Dios