Acts 22: 3-16 or Acts 9: 1-22
Ps 116: 1bc. 2
Mk 16: 15-18
The Conversion of St Paul
Paul’s conversion story is the most famous conversion story in the history of salvation. One who persecuted and killed Christians became one of the greatest Apostles of the Gentiles and today Paul is honoured almost equal to Peter.
In Damascus in a lightning storm Christ spoke to Paul. Paul surrendered totally to Christ. Up to that moment Paul was doing what he liked; what he taught the best. After his conversion he would tell what to do. If we are really transformed in the image of Christ, we will also start doing what commands us to do.
If we want have a chronology of what happened to Paul after conversion we have to read the Acts of the Apostles and the letter to the Galatians. Paul is converted on the road of Damascus. He preached in Damascus. He went away to Arabia and spent some time there returned to Damascus and preached there and then went to meet Peter and other Apostles in Jerusalem. He escapes from Jerusalem, goes to Caesarea, and then goes to Syria and Cecelia. Paul knew Torah and in that background, he preached about Christ and was one of the fearless preachers of his time. He said, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ”. He established different Churches travelling by sea and suffering persecutions and beating. Barnabas, Silas, John Mark and Luke were his companions in his missionary journey. It is inspiring to note that Paul letters before the Gospels were written and such was his personal experience of the Master Jesus Christ.
There are many passages in Pauline Letters which are considered as the best in Christian faith. In Philippians chapter Two, versus one to eleven we have the hymn of ‘the Crucified Christ” – the kenosis of Christ. Again in Philippians we read, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” Romans Chapter eight is a beautiful chapter on Holy Spirit who enables the believers to call Abba and enables us to pray. Hence Holy Spirit is not the object of our Prayer but the subject of our Prayer. The chapter end with Paul saying, “Who can separate me from the love of Christ” (Rom 8:31). He speaks about Charisma and gifts In First Corinthians in Chapters 12, and 13. Chapter 13 is the masterpiece of love and Teresa of Lisieux was attracted to this chapter to the extent of saying, “My vocation is to love”.
There is a growth in personal love and commitment for Christ which is manifested in, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2: 20). There are two beautiful captions that can be recited throughout the day – “My grace is enough for you” (II Cor. 12: 9) and the second one “There is more happiness in giving that in receiving” (Acts 20: 35).
Let us imitate Christ as Paul has imitated.
Fr Shepherd Thelapilly CMI