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Lasallian Meditation on Saint Paul

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In this meditation from Meditations by John Baptist de La Salle, Saint John Baptist de la Salle meditates on Saint Paul as a model of zeal.

June 30: Saint Paul
140.1 First Point
The most admirable trait in Saint Paul is his all-embracing and ardent zeal, which he first showed by defending the faith of Moses, in which he had been very well instructed.1 Because he was very knowledgeable and saw that the Christian religion was beginning to spread throughout Judea by the preaching of the Apostles, he took every possible step to oppose and to destroy it. As a consequence of his zeal, he took part in the stoning of Saint Stephen,2 even though he was a relative. Then, having done all he could against the faithful in Jerusalem, he took steps to secure authorization to persecute those in the city of Damascus.3

His zeal for the law of God made him undertake all these travels and all these persecutions against the Christians,4 but he did all this out of ignorance,5 as he states. This is why God did not leave him in error but enlightened him in a completely miraculous manner.

You have the advantage of knowing the truth and the happiness of having been born and brought up in the Christian religion. You must necessarily consider it your first duty to uphold it. Are you as zealous in this respect as Saint Paul was to preserve the Jewish law? You have an easy means of doing so by instructing children, teaching them the truths and the holy maxims of the Gospel, and strongly opposing everything that the spirit of immorality is able to inspire in them to the contrary.

140.2 Second Point
After Jesus Christ had converted Saint Paul and had taught him his religion with the help of no one,6 this saint preached with so much zeal and so much success that he labored more to spread faith in Jesus Christ, as he says, than all the other Apostles did.7 His entire effort was to procure the conversion of souls, especially the Gentiles, for whom God, he says, by his power had established him as their Apostle.8

His efforts brought about important results, for he preached in many provinces and performed all sorts of prodigies and miracles to establish Christianity. This made the people want on one occasion to offer a sacrifice to him, as though he were a god who had come down from heaven and taken the form of a man.9 He led a life more heavenly than human, for he thought only of drawing souls to God and of instructing, strengthening, and consoling them.

God, by his power and very special goodness, has called you to give the knowledge of the Gospel to those who have not yet received it. Do you regard yourselves, then, as ministers of God? Do you fulfill the duties of your work with all possible zeal and as having to give an account of it to him?

140.3 Third Point
Zeal cannot be more genuine and more firm than when it continues in the midst of the greatest sufferings and the most cruel persecutions. In this way Saint Paul's zeal was put to the test. Several times he was thrown into prison; he was wounded frequently; often he was almost at death's door because of the beatings given him. Five times he was cruelly scourged; three times he was beaten with rods; once he was stoned. He was shipwrecked three times, and he spent a day and a night adrift on the sea. He was in danger of falling into the hands of robbers. Those of his own nation laid ambush for him, as did the Gentiles also. He endured afflictions and sorrow, lengthy nights of prayer, hunger, thirst, and cold;10 in the midst of all these ordeals, his zeal never slackened.11

In your ministry you need much zeal. Imitate the zeal of this holy Apostle, so that neither insults, injuries, calumnies, nor persecutions of whatever kind may be able to diminish your zeal in the slightest or to force a single complaint from you. Consider yourselves very happy to suffer for Jesus Christ.12

1. Acts 22:3
2. Acts 7:58
3. Acts 9:1-2
4. Acts 26:11
5. 1 Tim 1:13
6. Gal 1:11
7. 1 Cor 15:10
8. Gal 2:8
9. Acts 14:11-13
10. 2 Cor 11:23-27
11. 1 Cor 4:11-13
12. 2 Cor 12:10; Acts 21:13

Acknowledgments

The meditation by Saint John Baptist de la Salle is from Meditations by John Baptist de La Salle, translated by Richard Arnandez and Augustine Loes, edited by Augustine Loes and Francis Heuther (Landover, MD: Christian Brothers Conference, 1994), page 256. Copyright ® 1994 by Christian Brothers Conference.

Published July 24, 2008.