The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

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Conversion of Saint Paul

Date: 
Thu, 01/25/2018
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

Saul was a well-known, a well-established card-carrying Pharisee.
He believes in God and believes he is in a good relationship with God.
He was familiar with the ways of God.  He studied and prayed the Hebrew Scriptures.
He followed the 10 commandments.  He thought he had the right knowledge. 
He thought he understood love.  He was strong in his faith; confident in his convictions…
thought he was being obedient to God’s will. 
He thought he was serving God by his life.
By rounding up Jews who were following this new Way, he believed he was doing what was just.
 
And then it happened:  a light from the sky flashed around him.  He was thrown to the ground.
He discovers he is now blind.
He hears the voice of the Risen Lord confronting him about his activity.
The Lord asks “why are you persecuting me?”
The Risen Lord says to him “I have a mission for you…you will be instructed in what to do”.
 
This encounter is the first stage of Saul’s conversion to Christ.
It is nothing less than a personal experience with God, a dialogue, an exchange of words.
This is the initial movement of Saul toward Salvation.
It happens by the grace of God.  It happens according to God’s initiative, not Saul’s.
 
Up to this point, Saul believed everything was right in his world.
He didn’t realize, he wasn’t aware, that there was something more:  a new revelation. 
In and through Jesus Christ God is acting in the world in a new and unique way.
Saul is invited to be part of how God was now intervening in human history.
His personal history of faith in God literally comes crashing to the ground.
There was a further reality of faith he was yet to experience.
It is very symbolic that he had to be led around by others because he was now blind.
He was like a helpless, dependent, child.
 
Saul’s conversion didn’t happen overnight.  It wasn’t same-day delivery.
Saul had to get used to the idea.  He had to repent…denounce his past.
There was probably some penance involved. 
He was responsible for causing a great deal of harm.  That harm had to be acknowledged.
Both his physical and spiritual sight had to be healed.  The Holy Spirit had to be poured out upon him.
And then he had to learn, be enlightened with regards to the truth.
He went away for three years to learn the story of Jesus Christ.
 
The Pharisee Saul becomes the apostle Paul.
Paul’s understanding of life, of goodness, of truth is completely re-defined.
In his conversion experience he learned that there was much more to relationship with God
than what he previously had.
He is brought by the Risen Lord to a radically new place.
 
When our faith crashes to the ground, when we become blind to where God wants us to go,
it isn’t the end.  It may very well be the intervention of grace and the start of  a new beginning.
God may be calling us to rebirth….calling us to a new and different direction in life.
God has the power and the desire to re-make us, to recreate us.
Part of St. Paul’s conversion was a re-grounding in how he responded to God.
As a Pharisee he believed that the greatest good was following the law.
As an Apostle he learned that the greatest good was a matter of knowing he was loved
by the Risen Lord.
 
Today’s prayer:  “O Lord, save us from our sin.  Give us the strength, the courage and the willingness to turn away from all that is contrary to Your will.  Instruct us about our mission in life and re-create us in Your love.  Amen!”