Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 8, 2008
Conversion means meeting risen Lord – Benedict
By CINDY WOODEN
Catholic News Service
While St. Paul had a dramatic personal experience of the risen Christ and received a mission directly from him, he still had to be baptized and become part of the Church community, Pope Benedict said.
"There is only one proclamation of the risen Lord because Christ is only one," the pope said at his Sept. 3 general audience.
But despite St. Paul's "immediate relationship with the risen Lord, he had to enter into the communion of the Church, he had to be baptized, he had to live in communion with the other apostles," he said.
Pope Benedict said, "Only in this communion with all could he be a true apostle."
The pope spoke about St. Paul as part of the year dedicated to the 2,000th anniversary of the apostle's birth.
The dramatic and unusual details of the conversion of St. Paul, who had been a zealous persecutor of Christians, sometimes claim so much attention that people miss the essential fact that conversion is a result of a relationship with Jesus, not a blinding light or being knocked to the ground, he said.
Pope Benedict said St. Paul's encounter with Christ "enlarged his heart, made him open to everyone.
"He did not lose that which was good and true in his life (or) his heritage, but understood it in a new way."
Being with Christ and having an open heart, "he was capable of a broad dialogue with everyone," he said.
"What does this mean for us? It means that for us, too, Christianity is not a new philosophy, a new morality," the pope said. "We are Christians only if we encounter Christ."
While Christians today will not encounter Christ in a blinding light, "we can meet Christ in reading the sacred Scriptures, in prayer, in the liturgical life of the Church. We can touch the heart of Christ and feel Christ touching our hearts," he said.