A new movie now in theaters portrays the life of St. Paul the Apostle based on his letters and the Acts of the Apostles, which was written by St. Luke. Jim Caviezel, best known for his role as Jesus in “Passion of the Christ,” plays the person of St. Luke who goes to visit St. Paul (played by James Faulkner), who is imprisoned while awaiting his execution. In the story, the physician St. Luke wanted to chronicle the last words of St. Paul for the edification and inspiration of the early Christian communities. The story takes place in the city of Rome around the year A.D. 67. It was then that Emperor Nero had just begun his persecution of Christians, making them the scapegoats for a fire he had set, one which destroyed a good part of the city. Many Christians fled the Romans and stayed at the house of Prisca and Aquilla for protection and community. There are some theatrical liberties taken to make a story plot, but many of the events depicted follow closely from the Scriptures.
Some of the most poignant scenes in the movie deal with St. Paul’s flashbacks of himself when he was a young zealous man who wanted to eradicate the Christians and their blasphemous beliefs. The most haunting scenes for St. Paul were the deaths that he caused due to his zeal, the stoning of St. Stephan the deacon to various other believers and even a young girl. One can see the anguish on his face and after his conversion experience went forth proclaiming the Gospel. St. Paul experienced sufferings for the Faith in his flesh and soul through beatings, stonings, shipwrecks and being left for dead. Through trial and temptations he boasted of his weaknesses that Christ may be gloried, yet he was undiminished in his resolve not to respond to violence with violence. As he told St. Luke, love is the only way, not revenge, where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. St. Paul went to his death graciously and won the crown of martyrdom with all those who bore witness to Christ before him.