Paul addressed the people in these words:
(I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up in this city.
At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law
and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today.
I persecuted this Way to death,
binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.
Even the high priest and the whole council of elders
can testify on my behalf.
For from them I even received letters to the brothers
and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem
in chains for punishment those there as well.
“On that journey as I drew near to Damascus,
about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me,
‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’
And he said to me,
‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’
My companions saw the light
but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, ‘What shall I do, sir?’
The Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told about everything
appointed for you to do.’
Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light,
I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.
“A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law,
and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
came to me and stood there and said,
‘Saul, my brother, regain your sight.’
And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him.
Then he said,
‘The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness before all
to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay?
Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away,
calling upon his name.’”
Today we celebrate the conversion of St. Paul. This is a wonderful day to remember that all things are possible with God. Paul had been persecuting, arresting and partaking in the murder of Christians (people of the Way).
We may not be persecuting others or killing people like St. Paul, but the Lord is calling out to us as He did to Saul. He calls each of us to conversion. He is asking us to surrender every part of our lives to Him.
Maybe we have a secret part of our life that no one knows about…. Maybe there is a sin that haunts us and keeps us from a life of abundant joy….
Jesus is saying to me and to you, “Surrender everything to me. Bring it to the light. I will heal you and love you. I will give you joy beyond understanding. I will change your life in ways you never thought possible.”
This day always reminds me of my own conversion. My heart was empty until I began to learn about Jesus Christ by reading the Gospels as a high school student. I was baptized at the age of 18 and thought I had given everything over to Jesus. Well it was a good first step. But I find that conversion and holiness is a daily surrender to God. In my brokenness I stumble and fall sometimes. If I go to the Lord seeking His mercy, He lifts me up, dusts me off, forgives me and then says, “Go and sin no more.” He calls me to greater holiness every day. And the more I bring things to the light of Christ and live in His grace, the more joy I experience.
The evil one is always tempting us to live a double life. He wants us to keep things secret and hidden from others. This only leads to isolation and depression. We must fight this temptation and bring everything to the light of Christ. Always remember Jesus came to make us one. The devil came to divide and conquer.
And when we receive the type of unconditional love that only Jesus can give us, we cannot help but go forth and share this good news. Our very lives become a living gospel if we live fully the joy that He has given us. That is what St. Paul did. And it is very possible that you and I are Christians today because of St. Paul’s spreading the news of Jesus to the Gentiles.
Let us surrender to Jesus today. We may not be like St. Paul and see the blazing light or hear God’s voice cry out from heaven, but the gentle invitation is there today echoing in our hearts, “Come, follow me. Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel. My yoke is easy, my burden is light.”
Have you brought everything to the light of Christ?
Are you living a double life?
Do you trust that following Jesus completely can bring great joy and freedom?
Have a great day!