by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J. | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
St. Paul is the most important theologian in the history of the Church … since St. Paul first gave expression to many truths that are the basis of the Creed and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
I have spent many hours preparing some homilies on the theology of St. Paul. My guide in this was Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen who said that he spent one hour of preparation for every minute of preaching. That study was most rewarding and gave me a few valuable insights into the thinking of St. Paul.
It is clear to me that St. Paul is the most important theologian in the history of the Church—with the possible exception of St. John the Evangelist, who was taught by Jesus himself—since St. Paul first gave expression to many truths that are the basis of the Creed and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The key to the theology of St. Paul is his personal encounter with the glorified Christ on his way to Damascus. That revelation, in which he was blinded for three days, changed Paul into a new man. The persecutor of Christ was changed into a zealous apostle to proclaim that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Christ, that he is Lord (Kyrios), and the Son of God. Because he saw the glorified Christ, and listened to him, he was transformed from a Jewish rabbi, to a Christian rabbi. Paul saw Christ, he heard him, he was called by him, and he was sent by him to convert the world. In carrying out his calling and sending, he was destined to suffer much for the sake of Christ—rejection, hatred, scourging, shipwreck, imprisonment and, finally, beheading by the Romans.
Christ is the key to St. Paul. His theology is Christocentric. The Gospel according to St. Paul is that the Son of God became man in Jesus Christ, in order to reconcile all mankind to God the Father, by his life, passion, death and resurrection. For Paul, Christ is the glorified Christ, now reigning gloriously in heaven, and seated at the right hand of the Father.