The Conversion of St Paul

This Weekend is Saturday the 25 January, the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, and Sunday the 26 January, beginning the Third Week of Ordinary Time.

The monks of the Abbey of Keur Moussa sing Aveugle de Coeur: “Blind in heart since my birth, I come to you, Light of the world…. Let me live as a child of light”  As I listen, I ask the Lord to open my eyes to what he wants me to see.  I ask God to shine his light into my life.

This week’s readings from the Gospel of Mark have told the story of the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  We have heard about his initial miracles which were so wonderful, that huge numbers of people followed him.  From these followers he chose the twelve disciples, to be the twelve founding pillars of his ministry.  Of course, the story doesn’t end there, and through the gospels the disciples are often lacking in understanding and wisdom which leads them to make terrible decisions – like Judas in his betrayal of Jesus, and Peter in his denial of Jesus.  But Peter and the others are eventually reconciled with the Risen Jesus.  The conversion of the anti-Christian zealot, Saul, to the apostle of Christ, Paul, is similar in this respect.  The story in this weekend’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, is only a beginning: Saul took some time to become Paul and some time to begin to understand that his call to preach -- to Jew and to Gentile -- the saving power of Jesus, the Son of God, was something that was a whole life's journey for him. Paul says in his Letter to the Church in Galatia, "God set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace ... Three years after (the Damascus Road conversion), I went up to Jerusalem." The preparation for this moment of his conversion was his whole life. This feast has been celebrated in the Church since the sixth century but became universal in the twelfth century. Today’s reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.

This is a great story - God intervening dramatically in the life of Saul.  And just as remarkable is Saul’s immediate response ‘What am I to do Lord?’  Perhaps this blinding light was the only way to get Saul’s attention.  And Saul responds simply, but wholeheartedly.  How does this make you feel?

Have there been times in your life when you have asked ‘What am I to do Lord’?  Is there a desire in you to respond to God as wholeheartedly as Saul?

Listen to how the story continues and reflect on your own responses to God’s invitation.

Saul, now called Paul, is asked to witness to what he has seen and heard.  Take some time to talk to Jesus about how you desire to witness to what you know of him – in whatever form that takes in your life.