January 25, 2014

St. Paul's conversion

January 25, 2014:  Conversion of St. Paul, apostle

Readings

  • Acts 22:3-16  Paul:  I, a Jew, persecuted this Way to death.  On my journey, a light shone around me, and I fell and heard, ‘Why are you persecuting me?  I am Jesus.  Go to Damascus and do as you're told.’  Ananias came and said, ‘Regain your sight,’ and I did.  ‘God designated you to know his will and hear his voice; you'll be his witness.  Call on him and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away.’
    Wordle: Readings 1-25-14
  • Acts 9:1-22  Saul asked for authority to bring to Jerusalem in chains any who belonged to the Way.  A light flashed; he heard, “Why are you persecuting me?  I am Jesus.  Go to the city and do what you're told.” Saul, blinded, was led to Damascus and didn't eat or drink.  God told Ananias: “Ask for Saul; he had a vision of you laying your hands on him to restore his sight.”  He replied, “He's done such evil and can imprison us all” but heard, “I've chosen him and will show him what he'll have to suffer.”  He entered and said, “God sent me that you may regain sight and be filled with the Spirit.”  He regained his sight, was baptized, recovered his strength, stayed with the disciples, and began to proclaim Jesus.  All were astounded.
  • Ps 117:1bc, 2  "Go out to all the world, and tell the good news."  Praise the kind and faithful Lord!
  • Mk 16:15-18  Jesus told the Eleven:  “Go into the world and proclaim the Gospel.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.  Believers will drive out demons, speak new languages, pick up serpents, drink poison without harm, and cure the sick.”
Pope Francis
  • To Italian Women's Center (CIF) conference:  Women share pastoral responsibilities with priests; may the space for women to contribute incisively to Church life increase further.  Women's contribution to family life is vital.  Developing presence in public and professional life while maintaining a special presence within the family takes assiduousness, prayer, and reflection on the reality of women in society.  Christian women, answer the call in dialogue with God, supported by Mary.  May she show the path to understanding.
Problems:  information is communicated so fast, we can't reflect on and digest it.  We can limit ourselves to our own ideas and interests and lose our bearings instead of expanding our knowledge.  Digital connectivity can isolate us from those close to us.  Those who lack access can be left behind. 

Don't reject social media because of the drawbacks; communication is human, not technological.  Grow in humanity and mutual understanding in the digital environment:  Recover deliberateness and calm.  Understand and accept those who are different.  People need to know they're accepted before they express themselves fully.  Listen attentively, see with different eyes, appreciate the richness of human experience and the values inspired by Christianity, such as the vision of the human person, the nature of marriage and family, the distinction between religious and political, and solidarity and subsidiarity.
In union with God, we hear a plea:  Be God’s instrument for the liberation of the poor; be attentive to their cry and help them.  God hears their cry:  “I know their sufferings, and I have come to deliver them… so I will send you.”  “When they cried out, the Lord raised up a deliverer”  How does God’s love abide in one who refuses help?  Heed this plea born of the liberating action of grace within you: “You give them something to eat!”  Work to eliminate poverty’s causes and to promote the poor. 
“Solidarity,” more than generous acts, takes a community-oriented mindset. Privately owned goods are for the benefit of all.  We must restore to the poor what belongs to them.  Solidarity opens the way to structural transformations; structures changed without generating new convictions eventually become ineffectual. 
Earth belongs to and is for the whole human race; one’s dignity shouldn’t depend on where they were born.  The more fortunate should place goods at others’ service.  We should hear the plea of those beyond our countries and allow all to become artisans of their destiny.

We’re called to ensure not only sustenance but also prosperity including education, health care, and employment; people express and enhance their dignity through free, creative, and participatory labor.  A just wage unlocks access to other goods destined for common use.  (4.II, 187-92, pp. 147-52) 
Reflections
    • Creighton:  We have conversion moments too, whether from new awareness, wanting to stop a bad habit, responding to a loved one who confronts us, accept it, or a religious experience.  Our hearts are drawn to God's love opening us to change.  Ask for the grace of conversion.  Jesus identified with the people Paul persecuted; let us be one in him, experience the Gospel joy of God's love for us, and spread that joy.
    • RC.net:  Jesus promised to give the disciples power, and they were filled with joy. We share their task to proclaim the good news to the world, with God working in and through us.
    • Universalis:  Christ comes to and converts Saul, who supported Stephen's stoning and persecuted Christians.
    Music for gospel
    Apparel for Acts readings


    "Eyeball" pin:  Saul's blindness and recovery of sight 

    "Hands" tie:  Ananias laid hands on Saul
    (OK, I didn't really wear this today)
    Dress your life!

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