Paul is derived from the Roman family name Paulus or Paullus meaning Small or Humble.
St Paul was born at Tarsus, Cilicia, of Jewish parents who were descended from the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Roman citizen by birth.
As he was a “young man” at the stoning of St Stephen, and an “old man” when writing to Philemon, around the year 63 AD.
To complete his schooling, St Paul was sent to Jerusalem, where he sat at the feet of Gamaliel and was educated in the strict observance of the ancestral law. He also acquired a good knowledge of exegesis and was trained in the practice of disputation.
As a zealous Pharisee, he returned to Tarsus before the public life of Jesus opened in Palestine.
Some time after the death of our Lord, St Paul returned to Palestine. His profound conviction and emotional character made his zeal develop into a religious fanaticism against the infant church. He took part in the stoning of the first martyr, St Stephen and in the fierce persecution of the Christians that followed.
Entrusted with a formal mission from the high priest, he departed for Damascus to arrest the Christians there and bring them bound to Jerusalem.
As he was entering Damasus, about noon, a light from heaven suddenly blazed around him. Jesus with His Glorified body appeared to him and addressed him, turning him away from his apparently successful career.
An immediate transformation was wrought in the soul of Paul. He was suddenly converted into the Christian Faith and became an Apostle. And the good thing was, while he had suddenly been shown God’s grace, Jesus had already prepared his path for him.
And even though it was Jesus himself who called him, Paul still had to prove himself to the others because of what and who he initially was.
There are people who claim to be Christians but behave otherwise. There are some too, who do not deny being atheist and yet behave more like Christians. Let us see the importance Mother Church places on the conversion of St Paul.
Just like the parable of the lost sheep, may we continue to pray, seek and help those who for reasons best known to them, have denied Christ. May our actions bring them back to God and may God bless us. Amen