January 25, 2020

Paul's conversion

January 25, 2020:  Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle

See about 20 connections with today?
Legend below

For Psalm 117
  • 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.”
    • Creighton Saul, grounded in Jewish tradition, stridently followed the laws of his upbringing, seeking out and persecuting Jesus' followers; the high priests and elders gave him the authority.  En route to Damascus, a bright light and commanding voice no one heard struck him down.  Blinded, he was led to Damascus, where Ananias told him he'd been chosen to carry Jesus' name to Jews and Gentiles.  The Holy Spirit filled him, and he led many to Christ.  This inspiring story includes Saul's reputation, Ananias' fear, Jesus' presence, and Paul's rebirth.  I've used my words and actions to persecute people who didn't seem to share my values.  How do we face times when we need conversion?  Facing sin is humiliating, but I become more aware of God’s compassion.  Through Jesus I was led to see others as God's beloved.  Thank God for the times we've accepted invitations to conversion; may we always hear and heed the Spirit.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "The convertible on Straight St.":  The Lord still converts Sauls into Pauls when he finds obedient Ananiases.  He turns persecutors into missionaries when he finds people who will take risks for the Gospel.  When the Lord gets Ananiases, he provides the signs and wonders so they can expel demons, speak new languages, handle serpents, drink poison without harm, cure the sick, and give them power to remove scales from the eyes of Sauls and baptize them so they may be filled with the Spirit.  Who's the last person you'd want to witness to?  That's your Saul.  That's where the power and victory are. That's an opportunity to act in faith.
    • Passionist:  Many young people have drifted from the Catholic faith because they feel judged.  Today’s feast might offer us a way to respond. Saul was a good Jew, a committed, zealous rabbi so confident in his faith that he was willing to die, and unfortunately kill, for it.  Recall he concurred in the stoning of Stephen.  Certitude can be delusional and dangerous; think of misguided religious fervor today.  We learn much from Paul when he speaks of his woundedness, as a thorn in his flesh, a compulsion to sin, or a sharp conflict with Barnabas and Peter.  Maybe that’s the real conversion. Paul is transformed by the community, as acceptance and care eclipse violence and hatred.  When I feel wronged, hurt, or ignored, may I transform the situation by loving another 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.
    The Conversion of St. Paul/ Michelangelo
    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
    • 'Chain' tie bar:  If Saul found Christians, he'd bring them back to Jerusalem in chains (1st reading)
      • '?' tie pin:  "Why are you persecuting me?"  "Who are you?"  "What shall I do?" (1st reading, alt. 1st reading)
      • 'Horse' tie pin:  Some say Saul "fell off his horse," but nothing in Scripture supports that.
      • 'Eyeball' pin:  Saul's blindness and recovery of sight, vision of Ananias (1st reading, alt. 1st reading)
      • 'Street light' tie bar:  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)
      • 'Hand' 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)
        • '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 (not back from repair):  "Go out to all the world and tell the Good News" (psalm, gospel)
        • 'Car' tie bar:  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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