THE CONVERSION OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE (FEAST)
I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.
What was it that changed Paul so drastically? In a blinding moment of clarity, the man who had been schooled in the Law and bent on persecuting Christians became humbled, helpless, and in need of guidance for his next steps—both physically and spiritually.
What changed Paul was his encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. And what an encounter it was! The brightness of Jesus’ glory temporarily blinded Paul, but his voice could not have been clearer: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 22:7). In that moment, Paul knew how wrong he had been. Jesus was not a false prophet who had deserved to die, and his followers were not delusional. Instead, Jesus was truly alive, and Paul learned that when he persecuted Jesus’ followers, he was persecuting Jesus himself.
Paul’s first words to Jesus were “What shall I do, sir?” (Acts 22:10). Jesus told him to go into Damascus, where he would meet the disciple Ananias and be baptized (22:12-21). In time Paul would travel far and wide proclaiming the good news. As dedicated as this man had once been to tearing down that body of believers, he would now be completely devoted to building it up. And build it he did, founding small communities of believers wherever he went.
What shall I do, Lord? On today’s feast of Paul’s conversion, this is a question we can ask as well. Maybe you already know what your mission is: to raise a family, perhaps, or to evangelize, or to care for the poor, or some combination of these and other callings. Whatever it is, the grace to accomplish your mission will flow from your own encounters with the risen Jesus.
If you’re still not sure what your mission is, or if you think God might be calling you to something new, perhaps it’s time to encounter Jesus once again. So keep seeking him! Pursue him in prayer, in the Scriptures, and in the sacraments. He will reveal himself to you and show you what he wants you to do. Just ask St. Paul!
“Jesus, I want to build up your body. Show me what you want me to do.”