25 Jan 2017
Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul
If Saul of Tarsus were alive today, we would call him a terrorist: hunting down Christians and persecuting them, all in the name of God. It’s strange, then, to consider that he ended up being one of our most revered Saints, St. Paul. On this Feast of the Conversation of Saint Paul, we commemorate how God captured and transformed the zeal in Paul’s heart for the good.
But there’s still the lingering history of Paul; after all, he was a persecutor of Christians, and a fervent one at that. Imagine if some terrorist today suddenly “saw the Light” and had a total conversion to Christ: would we be willing to accept him (or her)? That’s a tough one, for sure. Or maybe a less extreme example would be helpful: What if someone who’s always just been a pain in the neck actually did something nice? Could we see the goodness of the present situation, without letting the past get in the way? That’s a tough one.
But such people in our lives we like to call “opportunities for holiness.” When Jesus told Ananias to go meet up with Saul, Ananias basically said in reply, “Are you crazy?!” He wasn’t too thrilled with the idea, but he went anyway in obedience to the Lord. And in meeting Saul to be his guide, Ananias had an opportunity to practice God’s brand of charity and forgiveness; he had an opportunity to grow in holiness. And he took it. He even went so far as to call Saul, “my brother.”
The Conversion of Saint Paul was a very great act of God. And every time someone’s heart is turned to the Lord, it’s something to celebrate. May we have charity enough in our hearts to forgive the past, and to celebrate with those who are on the path of conversion.