January 25th is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. It came in a blinding moment, so different than the call of Jesus’ other apostles.
Caravaggio’s dramatic painting of Paul on the flat of his back, arms outstretched, helplessly blind is a vivid picture of humanity before God.
Conversion is God’s work; God alone gives the gift of faith.
The first reading for his feast tell the dramatic story of his conversion. (Acts 22, 3-16) In the gospel of Matthew,Jesus announces why he was called – to preach the gospel to all nations.(Matthew 16,15-18)
“May the Spirit fill us with that light of faith.”
For St. John Chrysostom “Paul, more than anyone else, has shown us what we really are, and in what our nobility consists, and of what virtue a human being is capable. Each day he aimed ever higher; each day he rose up with greater ardour and faced with new eagerness the dangers that threatened him. He summed up his attitude in the words: I forget what is behind me and push on to what lies ahead.
“When he saw death imminent, he bade others share his joy: Rejoice and be glad with me! And when danger, injustice and abuse threatened, he said: I am content with weakness, mistreatment and persecution. These he called the weapons of righteousness, thus telling us that he derived immense profit from them…
The most important thing of all to Paul was that he knew himself to be loved by Christ.”
May God give us that grace .
Today ends the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
May God give us all that grace.
Paul is one for me to look up to as he sits on his high horse, charging ahead, ready to slay the people of the Way. His moment of truth comes with blinding light throwing him down from his mighty high place. Have you ever been in the saddle? You are fairly high up from the ground, Four horsey legs support you but you must hold onto the reins.
My few horse rides were nothing like Paul’s. One Irish horse in Killarney took me to the lake where we hoped to linger but the horse was programmed to turn around and gallop back to the barn. What did Paul say when he heard God’s call? “Who are you?”
Are we not just like Paul on our charging steeds, firmly holding onto our false selves? I hope when I do have such enlightening.moments like Paul, I will recognize the voice of God. I find it’s so easy to put scales over my eyes. Rather than seeing God-ness or Goodness, I see something else. May we each let go of whatever is holding us in a fixed position. The People of the Way had Paul to threaten them. We have many who would wipe us out.