Saint Paul's love for Jesus was so great that he yearned to tell everyone about him. Let’s see how he carried out this mission!
We begin with the words the Lord spoke to Ananias, who baptized Paul, “‘Go, for he (Paul) is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name’” (Acts 9:15-16). We will see how Paul fulfilled these words.
About half of the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles deals with the life and works of Paul. During more than 20 years he made three missionary journeys. He traveled over 10,000 miles, by ship and by foot, through much of the then known world preaching about Jesus and founding Christian communities. He journeyed primarily through present day Israel, Syria, Turkey, and Greece. While walking those distances was arduous, traveling by sea was not comfortable either. We often are called upon to be in situations that are uncomfortable for us, situations that test our endurance and our faith. St. Paul shows how important it is to persevere in the face of difficulty—because the most important thing anyone can do is share the Word of God and invite the world into a relationship with Christ.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes these journeys, revealing some of what he suffered to bring the message of Jesus to others. “With far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death. Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor 11:23-28).
When Paul went to Jerusalem for the last time, he was welcomed by the believers. However, some of the Jews seized Paul and tried to kill him. He was rescued by the Romans, but imprisoned. One could think that everything was going against him! Eventually Paul asked to be sent to Rome to be tried by the Roman emperor. He lived for two years in Rome preaching the Gospel and finally was martyred between 64-67 AD.
Paul is called “The Apostle” because through his many missionary journeys and his Letters, he preached the Gospel to more people than any other apostle. In fact, he is frequently just referred to as “The Apostle.”
We can learn from St. Paul to be missionaries ourselves, teaching about Jesus through our examples, our words, and our actions.
by Sr. Patricia Cora Shaules, FSP
Image Credit: AngMoKio / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)