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Pilgrimage Mass: St. Paul Outside the Walls, Rome
Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Let me be honest with you: my relationship with St. Paul is quite different from my relationship with St. Peter. As I shared with you the other day, I readily identify wiht St. Peter: hot and cold, brave but cowardly, sinful but penitent!

It's different with St. Paul. I stand in absolute awe of St. Paul. I take my sandals off before his zeal, his fire, his consuming passion for Christ and the Gospel. But he's too far above and beyond for me to identify with him. Maybe it's because I never got knocked to the ground on the Road to Damascus!

But whether we identify with St. Paul or not, at the end of this amazing pilgrimage, I hope we can all identify with his words in the letter to Timothy: "I have competed well, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

And maybe our pilgrimage experience has been something of a Road to Damascus experience--a conversion of sorts. Maybe we've met God in a new way that won't allow us to be quite the same. Maybe we've been blinded by beauty in such a way that our eyes are now opened to see new things and to behold new wonders in the world around us.

And then, moving to the Gospel, I am hoping that this pilgrimage has been a transfiguration experience for each of us. In the glories of art and architecture, the glories of human achievement, I hope we have seen the beauty that is God. In the faces of one another, I hope we have seen the face of God; and in our prayer togehter, I hope we have felt the presence of God--so much so that, with St. Peter on the mount of Transfiguration, we have found ourselves saying, "Lord, it is good for us to be here!"

And maybe we wish we could build tents here so that the vision could last forever. But alas, Seattle (home), awaits us! We can't stay on the mountain: we must return to the plain--to the "plainnness" of our everyday lives, which, thanks to these days together, may not be quite so plain.

And the last thing I'd like to say is suggested by the words of Jesus to the three apostles: "Tell the vision to no one," he said to them. I hope it won't sound presumptuous or irreverent if I say to you: "Tell the vison to everyone!" Go home and tell people what you've seen, what you've learned, how you've grown, how you've changed.

My friends, let us go from this place made holy by the blood of St. Paul to proclaim our faith as boldly as he did, and to live it as convincingly has he did!

Father Michael G. Ryan





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