January 25, 2018

Paul's conversion

January 25, 2018:  Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle

See 19 connections with today?
Legend below

For Psalm 117
Pope Francis to ecumenical delegation
As the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity closes, we recall how last year's commemoration of the Reformation strengthened and deepened the communion between Lutherans and Catholics and their ecumenical partners.  It marked not a goal but a point of departure in the quest for Christian unity under the sign of gratitude, repentance, and hope.  Our efforts are moving towards the study of the Church's nature, a major ecumenical question.  Our prayer and meetings are no longer marked by dispute or conflict.  We understand the Reformation as a summons to confront Christianity’s loss of credibility and to renew and strengthen our confession of the Triune God.  I receive with joy and gratitude the Finland Lutheran Catholic Dialogue Commission's Communion in Growth. Declaration on the Church, Eucharist and Ministry” Ecumenical dialogue must turn to these decisive issues.
Our service to ecumenism is bearing witness to God's presence.  Since we reaffirm the centrality of the God question, we can join in commemorating the Reformation with faith in Christ crucified and risen, and shouldering our responsibility.  The theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power,” reminds us of the dire need of so many people.  It's our duty to help them, united by our shared commitment.  Let us humbly ask our Lord that we may be instruments of his peace.  May he help us work together as witnesses and servants of his love, and so glorify his name....  Full text
  • 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.”
  • CreightonMost of us have more subtle conversions than Saul's.  What led me to turn more directly toward God?  Who/what played a role?How did I respond?  Much might have happened over days, weeks, or years.  Maybe there was a mentor, a sacramental moment, an encounter with Scripture or nature....  Christianity is about daily conversions in ordinary life.  The slow burn of joy leads us to live differently, then share.  “We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves....  Here we find the inspiration to evangelize.  How can we fail to share [God's] love with others?” (Evangelii Gaudium)
  • One Bread, One Body:  "The 3rd day of blindness":  Many have open eyes but are blinded by the god of this age.  Sin forms scales on our hearts to obstruct our vision; they fall when we're baptized or receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Through the laying on of hands in Confirmation, the Holy Spirit gives us light and power to see.  May we live in that light, never blinding ourselves through sin.  "Live as children of light."
    The Conversion of St. Paul/ Michelangelo
  • Passionist:  Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics is based on a comprehensive CARA study stating that many young people drift from practicing their because they feel judged.  Saul was a good Jew, a committed rabbi, so confident in his faith that he was willing to die, and kill, for it.  There's misguided religious fervor today too.  Later, Paul speaks of his woundedness as a thorn in his flesh, confesses sin he can't control , and writes of the Barnabas/Peter conflict.  Maybe that’s the real conversion:  the community heals Paul, acceptance and care eclipse violence and hatred, and he's transformed.  May we transform situations by loving others into more abundant life.
  • 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
  • 'Menorah' pin:  Paul:  "I am a Jew..." (1st reading)
  • '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 light' 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, alt. 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)
  • 'Accordion' pin:  "This man is a chosen 'instrument' of mine..." (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' pin:  Believers will 'drive' out demons,... (gospel)
  • 'Serpent' tie pin:  ...pick up serpents... (gospel)
  • White shirt:  Liturgical color of today's feast

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