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Pope praises apostolic zeal of St. Paul, contrasts it with "backseat Christians"

Catholic World News - May 16, 2013

St. Paul exhibited a “healthy madness” that made him an effective evangelist, Pope Francis said in his homily at a Mass on May 16.

"Paul is a nuisance,” the Pope told the congregation at the Domus Sanctae Marthae. “He is a man who-- with his preaching, his work, his attitude--irritates others, because testifying to Jesus Christ and the proclamation of Jesus Christ makes us uncomfortable.”

St. Paul was “not a man of compromise,” the Pope continued, but a man consumed with apostolic zeal. This zeal, he explained, is not a form of ambition, but a dedication to the mission of preaching, which finds its origin in a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

"He was always in trouble--not in trouble for trouble’s sake, but for Jesus,” Pope Francis said. The zeal of the Apostle was a sort of “spiritual madness, of healthy madness.”

The Pope contrasted this zeal with the attitude of “backseat Christians,” who live quietly, bother no one, but cannot convey the faith to others. The Holy Father urged his congregation to pray for apostolic zeal, for the ability to be effective evangelists.

“Let’s be Christians with apostolic zeal,” Pope Francis said. “And if we annoy people, blessed be the Lord!”

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - May. 25, 2013 7:28 PM ET USA

    Let those who are called to this "healthy madness" embrace it! And may they be given the added grace of generous hearts that they might share the fruits with their brothers and sisters.

  • Posted by: frjpharrington3912 - May. 16, 2013 11:48 PM ET USA

    In an age in which secular powers are fighting to restrict the expression of one's religious convictions and values to the private sphere, and out of the public square, Pope Francis cites St. Paul whose "apostolic zeal", which he calls "spiritual madness" and "healthy madness" came from knowing Jesus Christ, "that first knowledge of the heart." In an age of irenism and ecumenism the Pope tells us not to compromise the truth, but go forward and bear witness to the truth that is Christ Jesus.

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