The apostle Paul composed more books of Scripture than any other biblical author. So the ongoing Year of St. Paul (June 28, 2008-June 29, 2009), which focuses on his life and work, has a happy convergence in the coming weeks with the upcoming world Synod of Bishops (Oct. 5-26), whose theme this year is "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."
Given the depth and breadth of the apostle's writings, probably every Catholic who's familiar with Scripture can identify some Pauline passage as a favorite, a biblical text whose insight has served to shape his or her life in a profound way. So TCA talked to Catholics around the country whose names you'll no doubt recognize, asking them to tell us: Which biblical passage written by St. Paul means the most to you?
Here are their answers. One text (Romans 8:37-39) was chosen by two people. A few came with comments explaining why a particular passage was chosen, but most need no explanation: St. Paul's words speak for themselves, in all their power, wisdom and passion.
"Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish" (Eph 5:25-27).
"Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. ...
"We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as [being] dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus" (Rom 6:3-4, 9-11).
"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righ-teousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection of the dead" (Phil 3:7-11, RSVCE).
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:37-39, RSVCE).
"Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Eph 6:13, RSVCE).
"We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose" (Rom 8:28).
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me" (1 Cor 15:10, RSVCE).
"But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me" (1 Cor 4:3-4, RSVCE).
"If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?" (Rom 8:31-32, RSVCE).
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Rom 1:16, RSVCE).
"[The Lord] said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Cor 12:9, RSVCE).
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20, RSVCE).
"Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2).
"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth" (1 Cor 13:4-6).
Jeremiah Ashcroft,Ph.D., president of Southern Catholic College in Dawsonville, Ga.TCA
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