Leaving our old selves behind... like St. Paul
Reflections on the readings for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25, 2020): ACTS 22:3-16; PS 117:1,2; MK 16:15-18
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days
Most adults who choose to become followers of Christ take time to discern their desire for conversion. But for St. Paul, then known as Saul, it started with a bolt from the blue.
On this feast of his conversion, we hear how he was literally thrown to the ground on seeing a great light. This passionate opponent of all Christ was and all He stood for – this persecutor of Jesus’ disciples – now heard our Savior identify Himself with the people who believed in Him and suffered for it. And He asked Saul, “Why?” Our Lord had no intention of letting Saul misunderstand who He was or what He wanted. Christ had plans for him and the future of the Church. After Saul reached Damascus, a man named Ananias, a faithful Jew who now followed Christ with devotion, went to the blind Saul and restored his sight. “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’” (Acts 22:14-16).
And so, the former enemy of Jesus and His disciples became Paul, an outspoken defender of Christ, a teacher of the Good News and, along with St. Peter, the major guide of the early Church. St. Paul journeyed throughout the Mediterranean area, introducing both Jews and, especially, Gentiles to the mercy of our Lord. His beautiful letters, now part of the New Testament, still influence Christians two thousand years after he was beheaded in Rome. He still inspires us to be zealous followers of our loving Jesus, the Son of the Eternal Father, who sacrificed Himself for our salvation.
Suggested missionary action: We can pray to St. Paul for ourselves and for all people God beckons to contrition and confession. We can also ask his guidance for those who are considering joining the Church.