January 25, 2017

Paul's conversion

January 25, 2017:  Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle

See 14 connections with today?
Legend below
Listen

For Psalm 117
Pope Francis
Audience:  Don't impose your conditions on God, but let Christian hope defeat your fear.  Trusting in God means being part of his plan, accepting that God knows what we need and saves and helps us in ways different from what we expect.
Recall how Judith during the siege of Bethulia urged the despairing population to reinforce its hope in the Lord and proposed a plan that led to victory.  Her wisdom and courage teaches us to trust in the Lord’s providence, but also, in prayer and obedience, to discern his will and do everything we can to respond to challenges that come our way.  Her faith inspires us to commend ourselves to the Father with trust and obedience.
We too must heed the wise and courageous words of humble women.  Grandmothers often know what to say and how to encourage because they have life experience; they've suffered, trusted in God, and received the gift of showing us how to keep the faith.  Pray with Jesus, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
World Communications Day message:
(continued from yesterday)

Confidence in the seed of the Kingdom:  Jesus frequently compares the Kingdom of God to a seed that releases its life potential when it dies.  His use of images and metaphors to convey the power of the Kingdom doesn't detract from its importance; it lets listeners freely accept and appropriate that power.  Images also effectively express the dignity and paradoxical beauty of the Paschal mystery and new life in Christ, where hardship brings about God’s salvation, weakness proves powerful, and failure can precede fulfilment in love.  Hope in the Kingdom matures and deepens as you scatter seed, wait, and the seed sprouts.  The Kingdom is already in our midst, like a seed easily overlooked, yet takes root.  Those the Spirit grants vision to can see it blossoming; they don't let the weeds rob them of Kingdom joy.
The horizons of the Spirit:  Our hope, based on the good news, Jesus himself, makes us lift up our eyes to contemplate the Lord when we celebrate his Ascension.  Though he may now appear more distant, the horizons of hope expand.  In Christ, who brings our human nature to heaven, everyone can freely “enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus....”  By the power of the Spirit we can be witnesses and communicators of a new and redeemed humanity “to the ends of the earth.”
Confidence in the seed of God’s Kingdom and in the Easter mystery should shape the way we communicate.  It enables us to work–in all the ways communication takes place–convinced that it is possible to recognize and highlight the good news in every story and each person's face.  Those who entrust themselves to the Spirit come to realize how God is present and at work in our lives and history.  Hope is the thread weaving this sacred history, and the Spirit the weaver.  Hope is the humblest of virtues; it's hidden in life's recesses, but it's the yeast that leavens the dough.  We nurture it by reading the Gospel, “reprinted” in the lives of the saints who became icons of God’s love.  The Spirit continues to sow in us a desire for the Kingdom, thanks to all who, inspired by the Good News amid today's dramatic events, shine in this world's darkness, shedding light and opening new paths of confidence and hope.
Read
  • 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.’
  • 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.”
Reflect
  • DailyScripture.net:  "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel":  Jesus' departure and ascension was both an end and a beginning for his disciples:  the end of Jesus' physical presence with them, the beginning of his presence with them through the Spirit.  He sent them, and sends us, to proclaim the good news to all the world, by the power of his Spirit.  
"Paul's conversion matured in his encounter with the Risen Christ; it radically changed his life.  What happened to him on the road to Damascus is what Jesus asks....  His and our conversion is believing in Jesus dead and risen and opening to the illumination of his grace.  When Saul understood his salvation didn't depend on good works fulfilled according to the law, but on Jesus' death and resurrection.  This truth overturns our way of life.  To be converted means to believe Jesus has given himself for me on the Cross and lives with and in me.  Entrusting myself to the power of his forgiveness, letting myself be taken by his hand, I can come out of pride, sin, deceit, sadness, selfishness, and false security to know and live the richness of his love." (Benedict XVI, 1/25/09, paraphrased)
      The Conversion of St. Paul/ Michelangelo
    • Creighton:  Wouldn’t it be great if we got signs as clear as Saul's?  The early disciples had a clearly defined mission, though family and friends might think we're foolish or easily taken advantage of when we try to live gospel values. Let's reflect on all the blessings we've been given and thank God for them, then see whether some family, friends, or neighbors could use some kindness or help, then see who else can feel God’s love through me....
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Chosen ones":  Paul was chosen to bring God's name to the Gentiles and Israel, suffer for Jesus' name, recover his sight, be filled with the Spirit, be baptized into Jesus, proclaim Jesus as Son of God, silence opponents with his proofs that Jesus was Messiah, hear God's voice, know his will, be his servant, and witness.  God has chosen us in many of those ways, and in unique ways....
    • Passionist:  We're not shocked to hear of moral lapses by politicians, entertainers, even ministers.  Remember how Abraham, father of the Judeo-Christian people and Islam, who welcomed strangers and modeled kindness, abandoned his son, Ishmael, and the child’s mother, Hagar, in the wilderness, without food or water.  Ponder how King David committed adultery and murder.  Today we remember how Rabbi Saul concurred in Stephen's stoning, then became Apostle to the Gentiles.  These stories remind us we can't catalog people as right or wrong, good or evil, saint or demon. genius or jerk…
    • DailyScripture.net:  "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel":  Jesus' departure and ascension was both the end of Jesus' physical presence with his disciples and the beginning of his presence with them through the Holy Spirit.  He sent them to be his witnesses and spread the good news; God's love and salvation are for all who will accept it.  Christ gives this great commission to the whole church:  we're to be heralds of the good news and ambassadors for Christ.  The Lord works in and through us by the power of his Spirit. 
    Paul, who first opposed the gospel and persecuted Christians, was converted when Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus.  "Paul's conversion matured in his encounter with Christ; it radically changed his life.  What happened to him on the road to Damascus is what Jesus asks....  His and our conversion is believing in Jesus dead and risen and opening to the illumination of his grace.  Saul understood his salvation didn't depend on good works fulfilled according to the law, but on Jesus' death and resurrection.  This truth overturns our life.  To be converted means to believe Jesus has given himself for me on the Cross and lives with and in me.  Entrusting myself to the power of his forgiveness, letting myself be taken by his hand, I can come out of pride, sin, deceit, sadness, selfishness, and false security to know and live the richness of his love." (Benedict XVI, 1-25-09, paraphrased)
    • Universalis:  Today we remember how Christ came to and converted Saul, who had supported Stephen's stoning and persecuted Christians.
    Dress legend
    • 'Eyeball' pin:  Saul's blindness and recovery of sight (1st reading, alt. 1st reading)
    • 'Hands' tie pin:  Paul was led by the hand; Ananias laid hands on Saul (1st reading, alt. 1st reading); the sick will recover when believers lay hands on them (gospel)
    • 'Street lamp' tie bar:  On the way to Damascus, a great light shone around Paul (1st reading, alt. 1st reading)
    • 'Letters' tie:  Saul asked the high priest for 'letters' to allow him to bring Christians back in chains (1st reading)
    • 'Phone' tie bar:  'Call' on God's name (1st reading); "Isn't this the one who ravaged those who call on Jesus' name?" (alt. 1st reading)
    • 'Dove' pin:  Jesus appeared to you that you may be filled with the Spirit (alt. 1st reading)
    • 'Olympics' tie pin:  "Go out to all the world and tell the Good News" (psalm, gospel)
    • 'Car' tie pin:  Believers will 'drive' out demons,... (gospel)
    • 'Serpent' tie pin:  ...pick up serpents... (gospel)
    • White shirt:  Today's color