THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL.
“I know whom I have believed.
I am sure that he, the just judge, will guard my pledge until the day of judgment
(Entrance Antiphon 2 Tim 1:12; 4:8).”
The 1st reading of today’s Mass taken from the Acts 22:3–16 recounts the conversion of St. Paul on his way to Damascus:
Paul addressed the people in these words: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city. At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way to death, binding both men and women and delivering them to prison. Even the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify on my behalf. For from them I even received letters to the brothers and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem in chains for punishment those there as well.
“On that journey as I drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’ My companions saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me. I asked, ‘What shall I do, sir?’ The Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about everything appointed for you to do.’ Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light, I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.
“A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law, and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me and stood there and said, ‘Saul, my brother, regain your sight.’ And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice; for you will be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard. Now, why delay? Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away, calling upon his name.’”
THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL IS AN INSPIRATION AND A BEACON OF HOPE FOR ALL OF US because “who can say that they cannot overcome their faults when one of the most zealous persecutors of the believers could be transformed into the Apostle to the Gentiles? (St Bernard, Sermon on the Conversion of Saint Paul, 1).”
GOD’S GRACE CAN STILL WORK AMAZING MIRACLES IN HUMAN HEARTS IN OUR DAY. HE CAN BESTOW OVERTURNING GRACES TO MEN AND WOMEN OF OUR TIMES. HOWEVER, THE POWER OF GOD DEPENDS UPON OUR OPENNESS AND CORRESPONDENCE TO HIS GRACE. GOD’S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT. What is INDISPENSABLE IS OUR FREE, UNSWERVING ASSENT TO GRACE.
Dear friends, this feast we celebrate today marks the end of the Octave for Christian Unity. The grace of God changed Saint Paul from a persecutor of Christians to a messenger of the Gospel. This event teaches us that our faith has its basis in grace and the free correspondence of each person. The best way to bring about the unity of Christians is to encourage personal conversions among those around us, starting with our own daily conversion which leads to sanctification.
“Conversion is the task of a moment; sanctification is the work of a lifetime. The divine seed of charity, which God has sown in our souls, wants to grow, to express itself in action, to yield results that continually coincide with what God wants. Therefore, we must be ready to begin again, to find again — in new situations — the light and the stimulus of our first conversion. And that is why we must prepare with a deep examination of conscience, asking our Lord for his help, so that we’ll know him and ourselves better. If we want to be converted again, there’s no other way.” St. Josemaria, Christ is Passing by, n. 58.
Let us pray daily to God to grant the conversion of many people, starting with ourselves, through the intercession of Our Mother in heaven, Mother of the Church and Help of Christians:
“O God, who taught the whole world through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul, draw us, we pray, nearer to you through the example of him whose conversion we celebrate today, and so make us witnesses to your truth in the world. Through Christ Our Lord.”
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PHOTO SOURCE:Carravaggio, “The Conversion of St. Paul” in http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Conversion-of-St-Paul-II.jpg