Changed – and helping change the world
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 “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Today we honor St. Paul the Apostle as we recall his conversion from an enemy of Christ to His devout disciple.
Originally known as Saul, he hailed from Tarsus in what is now Turkey. He was raised in the Jewish Pharisaic tradition and became known as a fierce persecutor of early Christians. It was in that role that he set out to arrange the arrest of those who followed Jesus. The reading from the Acts of the Apostles offers his account of what happened next. “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’” (Acts 22:6-8).
Saul was not only blinded by the light, but must also have been stunned to hear the voice of our Lord. However fearful or confused he may have felt, Saul’s response was to ask what was expected of him, what he should do. From that time on, Saul – soon to be known as Paul – gave himself over to Jesus. Surely, he must have believed that he was obeying God’s will when he had been harassing Christians. Now he realized that in pursuing Jesus’ disciples, he had truly been persecuting the Son of God. That miraculous meeting with Christ transformed Paul. He became an esteemed member of the Church and, as the greatest missionary of the age, went on to share the message of Jesus to all who would hear him. St. Paul also wrote a number of key letters that became part of the New Testament. In time, Paul would lay down his life as a martyr in the name of his beloved Lord.