The 25th of January is the day the Church keeps the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. However often told or re-told, it is still an astonishing story. That Saul, the implacable enemy of Christianity, who came against the faith ‘breathing threats and slaughter’, should be chosen by God to be Christianity’s greatest proponant and apostle is just the first of a series of dazzling and life-changing paradoxes that flow from Paul’s writing. At the heart of these is the revelation of God’s sheer grace; finding the lost, loving the violent into light, and working everything through the very weakness of those who love him. Here’s a sonnet celebrating just a little of what I glimpse in the great Apostle.
This and my other sonets for the Christian year are published together by Canterbury Press as Sounding the Seasons; seventy sonnets for the Christian Year.’ You can get this book in the UK by ordering it from your local bookshop, or via Amazon.
As always you can hear the poem by clicking n the ‘play’ button if it appears, or on the title of the poem.
An enemy whom God has made a friend,
A righteous man discounting righteousness,
Last to believe and first for God to send,
He found the fountain in the wilderness.
Thrown to the ground and raised at the same moment,
A prisoner who set his captors free,
A naked man with love his only garment,
A blinded man who helped the world to see,
A Jew who had been perfect in the law,
Blesses the flesh of every other race
And helps them see what the apostles saw;
The glory of the lord in Jesus’ face.
Strong in his weakness, joyful in his pains,
And bound by love, he freed us from our chains.
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4 responses to “Apostle! -a sonnet for St. Paul”
Thanks for this Malcolm. As well as being Burns’ night, yesterday was also my brother’s birthday, so I’ll send him this as I’m sure he’ll be intrigued to read & hear it…
My copy of Sounding the Seasons just arrived today. Noticing the change of title compared to the book, and finding “Apostle” to be more apt, somewhat like the difference between “Jesus” and “Christ.”
An absolute delight to hear the poet’s voice while reading along. Bless you a thousand times over for making these recordings freely available on your blog.
Thanks Michelle yes the titles I. The book are tweaked a little so that they all work as a sequence. But I retained Apostle for the web version. Glad you’re enjoying these posts