Friday, January 24, 2014

The Conversion of St Paul

“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.’" Acts 22:6-8

Most conversions are not as dramatic as St Paul's, but almost all of us have Epiphany moments, times when the light goes on and we see clearly how God has been active in our lives, and most of these events come when we least expect them. At the same time, it is important not to focus too much on any single event or moment in our lives. Conversion moments are intended to give us a direction, not get us stuck waiting for more insight and consolation.

Most important, we need to remember that conversion is a life long process which will have its dark and light moments, and that God is in the middle of them all. For St Paul, the terrible memories of persecuting Christians, or people of the Way as he called them, never left him, but shaped his entire life. Knowing how violent and committed he could be to eradicating what he perceived to be error, helped him use the same energies for good. Though painful, St Paul's memories served as a constant reminder to change his life for the sake of  God's people and the Gospel.

It is important to take time regularly to reflect on our own conversion story. Asking ourselves how God has entered and redirected our lives, though distressing at times, also helps us remember that God is always near, always involved and always wanting us to move more deeply into the mystery of God's love. When we do this with others, moreover, we build a community of faith that strengthens all who are willing to share and grow with others towards the heart of God.

Today, take a moment to pray in gratitude for your own conversion moments.

What about your own conversion continues to guide your faith journey?

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