A Reading from Acts 22:3-16
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.’”
Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle.
Why is St. Paul’s conversion significant?
What is conversion and how does it happen? The word conversion comes from the Latin word “conversio” which means to “turn around.” The New Testament uses the Greek term “metanoia” which means a change of heart showing repentance. Conversion is a complete change from one’s past life to a completely different life, leaving a sinful life and living a life for God. It’s a person’s internal transformation, which can be seen by the change in their behaviors.
There are many examples of conversion. St. Augustin heard a boy say, “Take and Read.” Yet, his conversion happened over a long period of time. It wasn’t until he was 33 years old that he was baptized. He continued to transform into a teacher, philosopher and Doctor of the Catholic Church over his lifetime.
There is the conversion of the woman at the well. After she met Jesus, who knew everything about her, she accepted Jesus as the Messiah even though she was a Samaritan. She shared her experience of meeting Jesus with the whole town. (John 4)
St. Paul’s conversion was dramatic. He was struck down, blinded and heard Jesus’s voice say,“Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me!” Then he changed from a zealous Jew driven to kill or imprison Christians to a great missionary of the early Catholic Church. It was through his conversion that Paul received the revelation that Jesus and His Church were one body.
Therefore, there is a definite pattern to conversion in the Bible and in the lives of saints.
First, there is an encounter with Jesus. There is a decision to have a relationship with Jesus. Then one must say, “yes”, to get that relationship. And finally, “what will the cost be...” discipleship and mission.
St. Paul’s conversion was significant because it came at a crucial time of the early Catholic Church. His conversion helped spread Christianity beyond Jerusalem and the Sea of Galilee. His missionary trips brought Christianity to the gentiles. He showed us that Jesus comes to us with the whole Church, the whole body of Christ, with the Sacraments, with Mother Mary, all the saints, angels, and all the baptized.
‘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.’”
Listen for your call to conversion! Pray the PAPA Prayer for Vocations.
And Join us in a relationship with Jesus and come to FACE ZBS tomorrow!
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