Written by: Raph Ma
[Day 96 of Read the Bible and the Catechism in a Year]
In the 26th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul, having been taken into custody, is given the chance to testify before King Agrippa II, the last member of the line of Herod. He begins by describing his upbringing and early life, which was well known – St. Paul was a Pharisee, and observed all the precepts of the law strictly. Then he goes on to say:
“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem; I not only shut up many of the saints in prison, by authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme; and in raging fury against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” [Acts 26:9-11]
Jesus had foretold this would happen to His disciples:
“They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.” [John 16:2]
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD; and you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” [Deuteronomy 6:4-5]
Saul was by all standards, a zealous observer of the law. And he thought what he was doing was God’s will, and being zealous for the law, he persecuted Christians with all his heart, all his soul, and all his might. Yet, was this really God’s will?
In Dom Lorenzo Scupoli’s book “The Spiritual Combat”, he lists Distrust of Self as the first of the “four most sure and necessary weapons” (the next three are Trust in God, Spiritual Exercises, and Prayer). I think it is safe to assume that anyone who reads this is at least nominally interested, if not wholeheartedly trying to do God’s will. To be freed from our fears of doing God’s will is a great blessing, for which could all probably thank God for more often.
Yet almost as soon as we cross over from being afraid of doing God’s will to actually trying to do it, a new, more subtle temptation appears – presumption. After a few days or a few years of trying to do God’s will, it is easy to think we’ve achieved something, and now we “know” a thing or two about God’s will. And before we know it, we say “Thy Kingdom Come”, but what we really want is “My Kingdom Come”. St. Paul’s earlier life should serve as a reminder to us all of just how far we are capable of falling if we are unwilling to humbly let go of our convictions, ideas, and opinions when the Lord calls, and instead sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to His teaching. But when we finally do part with this precious attachment of ours, however long or short of a time that may be, we will hear the Lord speaking, because for once, we are actually listening.Scripture, by Catholic Chapter House.