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St. Paul a reformed bully
This is his year!

Have you ever known someone who has authority over others (along with the power that goes with it) and used it to beat people down? And have you ever known someone who is a know-it-all; who can’t hear anything without coming up with something better; who can’t be told what to do; who won’t listen to anyone else other than himself or herself? Sure you do. I’ve known plenty of them – and I’ve suffered because of them, too.

    The know-it-alls and the bullies of life never make life better for those around them; they only make things worse. They even keep God at a nice, safe distance. When it comes to religion, they have all the answers, know everything there is to know and even become religious bullies.
    St. Paul was one of those. The religious authorities surrounding him commissioned him to seek out, find and smack down any Christians he could find anywhere. He was a perfect fit for the job, being himself a know-it-all. He shared in putting to death the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen. St. Stephen was stoned to death and Paul (his name was Saul at that time) participated in it. You can read about it in the Book of Acts, Chapter 7, verses 51-60 and Chapter 8, verses 1-3.
    Religious know-it-alls and bullies even put Jesus to death. Jesus knows about them; so does his Father in heaven – his Father and ours, too. Many times in my life I’ve asked God to punish (really punish with a lot of pain) those kinds of people, especially those who have hurt me. But, you know what? He hasn’t.
    God’s ways are infinitely more wise and powerful than those of any bully or know-it-all. One of the greatest examples is what God did to Saul; he transformed Saul into St. Paul! It’s a great story. You can read about it again in the Book of Acts in Chapter 9, verses 1-19.
   What I’m saying is that you will encounter religious bullies and know-it-alls throughout your whole life. Turn them over to God and ask God to deal with them in ways that are best, maybe even in ways you least expect.
   And give yourself a check-up. Have you ever acted like a religious know-it-all and thought you didn’t need to go to religious education classes because you knew better than those teachers? And have you ever bullied anyone using religion as a stone to smack them? Well, don’t.
   Being a teen isn’t easy. Being a Christian isn’t easy, either. But God didn’t promise to make life easy for us; he promised only to make it better. And I promise you, if you do beautiful things for God, he will do beautiful things for you. Just like he did for St. Paul.

Father Charles Irvin

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