2nd Week of Ordinary Time (25th January, 2019)
First Reading: Acts 22:3-16
Gospel: Mk 16:15-18
The feast of conversion of St. Paul is a rare feast in the Catholic Church. We celebrate the feast of saints for their heroic virtues and deep faith they had. But rarely do we commemorate anyone’s conversion as a feast. This happens only in the case of St. Paul. We celebrate his conversion. It is for a significant reason that the Church wants us to contemplate on his conversion and be inspired by his life.
The previous life of St. Paul as Saul shows us that his commitment to persecute the Christian was only natural for him to do so because he was a staunch Hebrew and was proud of his Jewish origin. He was known for his zeal and devotedness and his committed practice of all rubrics and regulations like the Pharisees. Such zeal and devotedness to Jewish customs led him to be truthful executioner of the commandments of high priest of the temple of Jerusalem but whereby he sent innumerable number of Christians belonging to the Way to the gallows. They were followers of Christ. He did anything to stall the growth of belief in Christ. One such incident was his journey to Damascus with a letter for high priest of temple in Jerusalem to arrest those who belonged to Christ. So, Saul as a staunch Jew was raging fury as he breathed threats and murder of disciples of the Lord.
But God had His own way for Paul. His light fell upon Saul and his army making him fall to the ground. There began the conversation of Saul with Jesus. Once Saul realized that it was Jesus speaking to him, he remains speechless. However what follows is something we need to learn. He does not oppose Jesus. He does not justify his deed but rather he obediently asks Jesus what Jesus wanted him to do. We know the answer of Jesus i.e., to rise and go to Damascus where he would be told what to do. The divine sign that accompanied and made him believe in the message of Jesus for him was his blindness. Paul without any hesitation obediently follows the commands of Jesus and gets his sight recovered upon meeting Ananias and there we have a whole lot account of his deep faith in the resurrection of the Lord and his tremendous and incredible journey he makes far and wide to proclaim the message of the Lord whose disciple he was persecuting. In all these, he remains a humble servant of the Lord taking the name ‘Paul’ which means small or little.
What we see in the life of St. Paul is his commitment, surrender and his availability to all people for glory and honour of God (1 Cor 9:119-23). All that he did and said was to win the souls for Christ and he did it till his death, nothing deterred him in his mission. He renounced his life for Christ being consumed in His love as Jesus would say, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). Yes, the total commitment of St. Paul can be summed up in his own words, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Let us seek his intercession that we too may become fired with zeal for God’s glory and love of all. Amen.