Paul said to the people, "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I went there in order to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.
"While I was on my way and approaching Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Then he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. I asked, ‘What am I to do, Lord?’ The Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.’ Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus.
"A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there, came to me; and standing beside me, he said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight!’ In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice; for you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptised, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.’
Today is Friday the 25 January, the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul.
Oculi mei ad Dominum Deum:My eyes are on the Lord God.Wherever I am right now, on the way to work, walking in the park, sitting at home… what can I see?What can I see around me?I remember for a moment that God is present in all of this, that all of this has been made by God, and is loved by God, that God holds me, and all of this, in the palm of his hand.
Today’s reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.
Paul is clearly very keen to assert his credentials – his origins, his place of birth, his upbringing, his education.What do you feel are the credentials, or the ‘externals’ that give you credibility and make you acceptable in the circles you normally move in?
Are there moments, on the other hand, when you feel the need to get beyond those ‘externals’, and deal with the real person behind them?How might doing that change my life and my attitude to other people?
Listen again to the directness of Paul’s dialogue with Christ, as the main part of the passage is read again.
Is there a direct and personal dialogue that you want to have with Jesus, right now?