Wednesday, January 25, 2012

St. Paul By: C.C

"Meanwhile Saul was still breathing threats to slaughter the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked for letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, that would authorise him to arrest and take to Jerusalem any followers of the Way, men or women, that he might find. It happened that while he was travelling to Damascus and approaching the city, suddenly a light from heaven shone all round him. He fell to the ground, and then he heard a voice saying, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' he asked, and the answer came, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do.'The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless, for though they heard the voice they could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing at all, and they had to lead him into Damascus by the hand. For three days he was without his sight and took neither food nor drink.There was a disciple in Damascus called Ananias, and he had a vision in which the Lord said to him, 'Ananias!' When he replied, 'Here I am, Lord,' the Lord said, 'Get up and go to Straight Street and ask at the house of Judas for someone called Saul, who comes from Tarsus. At this moment he is praying, and has seen a man called Ananias coming in and laying hands on him to give him back his sight.' But in response, Ananias said, 'Lord, I have heard from many people about this man and all the harm he has been doing to your holy people in Jerusalem. He has come here with a warrant from the chief priests to arrest everybody who invokes your name.' The Lord replied, 'Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for my name.' Then Ananias went. He entered the house, and laid his hands on Saul and said, 'Brother Saul, I have been sent by the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, so that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' It was as though scales fell away from his eyes and immediately he was able to see again. So he got up and was baptised, and after taking some food he regained his strength. After he had spent only a few days with the disciples in Damascus, he began preaching in the synagogues, 'Jesus is the Son of God.' All his hearers were amazed, and said, 'Surely, this is the man who did such damage in Jerusalem to the people who invoke this name, and who came here for the sole purpose of arresting them to have them tried by the chief priests?' Saul's power increased steadily, and he was able to throw the Jewish colony at Damascus into complete confusion by the way he demonstrated that Jesus was the Christ." (Acts 9:1-22 )
Today we recognize The Conversion of St. Paul. We remember an incredible man of faith and are able to see God's amazing transforming power. Yet again we bear witness to the impact of the Gospel message and the influence of those like St. Paul who are full of conviction and on fire for their faith. St. Paul's conversion shows us the lengths that our Lord will go to call us out of our sin. It allows us to see the way that God uses us as His instruments to do His will. I have always been drawn to the writings of St. Paul, and I find so much value and modern relativity in his teachings on Christian Spirituality/Christian Life. Through St. Paul one can recognize the power of Christ within, the importance of surrender, and the way that we are called to live. Today's reading at mass began by describing "Saul" as one on a mission to slaughter the Lord's the end of this reading we are faced with the miracle of Saul (Paul) being completely transformed by God. He is no longer on a mission to slaughter but on a mission to save souls proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord. St. Paul truly took up his Cross and followed the way of Jesus (further readings will allow one to see that this was not an easy road). Through his conversion and the events of his life post Damascus, one can not help but truly recognize St. Paul as a true warrior for Christ. We witness the way that God used St. Paul to aid in the conversion of many who were led astray from their faith. As we recall the Conversion of St. Paul today let us pray for his intercession to help lead souls back to faith. Let us praise God for His power to transform and change us. May we constantly recognize our need for conversion daily. Let us see ourselves as instruments of our Lord and seek opportunities to do His will. May we be proud of our Catholic identity and confidently live out our faith every day. Lord, As we bear witness to the world around us it is often hard to remain hopeful and faithful. Provide us with the courage, faith, and hope to press on with You as our guide. Give us the strength to help make a difference when we can. Amen (C.C.)
“With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his
demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity” (Rom 12:1-2, Phillips)

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