The feast of the conversion of Saint Paul is approaching, and we as MSSP celebrate it as one of the main liturgical moments in our spiritual journey during the year. The figure of Paul is a central one in the Christian tradition and a very dominant one where it comes to the missionary itinerary of each baptised person. We as missionaries hold dear his memory which comes to us through his written word and narrated actions. Our founder Joseph DePiro chose Paul’s call on the road to Damascus as the icon that animates us in both the discipleship of Jesus and in our apostolate as missionaries.
The turning point of our Christian journey starts from a personal encounter with Christ. One is not born a Christian but becomes one. Very often we think of Paul as the one who suddenly became the missionary we know him after the experience near Damascus. But this is far from the truth. Paul’s experience of Christ, even though a very strong and particular one, needed years of formation as a disciple. He had to return to his own native city, and delve deeper into the basics of his call. It was only after being fetched by Barnabas and the Church of Antioch that Paul gradually becomes a central figure in evangelisation, first locally then “globally”.
The turning point of our Christian journey starts from a personal encounter with Christ.
One is not born a Christian but becomes one.
Thus, Paul’s own personal journey is a good witness for us missionaries of the need to encounter Christ personally and the sufferings we have to endure to grow in faith and be transformed into a living proclamation of the Word. Our commitment in our missionary vocation is based on two questions that can only be answered creatively by the Holy Spirit that dwells in us:
Paul is our mentor on this journey. His personal experience of Christ becomes the Word of God itself in his letters. There he sheds a strong light on who the Lord is for us. His way of “becoming all things for all men” (1 Cor 9:22) is the path of humility that guides missionaries in their service and thus the way God calls us to serve in our call.
On this particular feast we as Paulist missionaries, encourage our lay brothers and sisters in all the regions where we are present to renew their commitments in the missionary charism given to our founder Joseph DePiro. May they become a concrete sign of both discipleship (personal encounter with Christ) and apostleship (witnesses of Christ) within the Church. As we continue to explore different ways of how we can live this charism we pray for an open heart in the spirit of Paul.
May we continue to seriously seek His face and build up each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Fr Mark Grima mssp