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Grace upon Grace

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul

First Reading: Acts 22:3-16

Paul addressed the people in these words:
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up in this city.
At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law
and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today.
I persecuted this Way to death,
binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.
Even the high priest and the whole council of elders
can testify on my behalf.
For from them I even received letters to the brothers
and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem
in chains for punishment those there as well.

“On that journey as I drew near to Damascus,
about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me,
‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’
And he said to me,
‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’
My companions saw the light
but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, ‘What shall I do, sir?’
The Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus,
and there you will be told about everything
appointed for you to do.’
Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light,
I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.

“A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law,
and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
came to me and stood there and said,
‘Saul, my brother, regain your sight.’
And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him.
Then he said,
‘The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness before all
to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay?
Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away,
calling upon his name.’”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 117:1BC, 2

R. (Mark 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.
For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world, and tell the Good News.

Gospel: Mark 16:15-18

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

NAB

jan 25

I’m not driving out demons. I mean, sometimes I feel like I am. Today my two-year-old got hit with a rock in a crossfire of a nasty fight between his older sisters. In the moments directly proceeding that situation I felt like I was driving out demons, handling snakes, AND speaking a new language. It was not pretty.

It’s easy to read this passage from Saint Mark’s gospel and see it as inapplicable to our daily life. But I don’t think it’s such a stretch. The twelve were given the gift of healing and speaking in new languages in order to accomplish their purpose on this earth. And so, by grace, they were given the tools they needed to live their vocation as preachers and teachers fully. Now, I am not one of the twelve, and the job that has been given to me is not one of bodily healing or mass conversion of sinners. My job is a husband, a home, and our children, and for those things—for them—the grace I need is no different than that of the twelve.

But I don’t often remember that and this Gospel is such a massive reminder for me. Remember what Our Lady said when she appeared to Saint Catherine Laboure? She told her that the graces available for us, from both her and her Son and Savior, were plentiful. That they were more than we could ever, ever need, and all that was required of us to receive them was to ask. I think back to today when my baby was hit with the rock and the screaming and shouting commenced. How often I forget to just stop and ask. How often I forget to seek the grace I need to do my job well . . . just like the great martyrs, just like the twelve.

Our jobs were certainly different, but the grace is the same. Our God is the one that gave it to them and He will give it to us. And while our vocation seems pretty simple in comparison to these greats of the Faith, it is still the work of the saints and we need still His grace to do it. Let’s not forget to reach for it.

Today, make it a point to stop and ask Christ for His grace. Don’t be afraid to be demanding. A great priest once told me I should be confident enough to speak truthfully to the Lord when I’m desperate—I need you. You’ve got to figure this one out because I can’t. Help. 

Maybe just try and do it once in a moment of need. I will, too. Let’s see how He shows up.

photo credit

Blythe Fike is the wife of Kirby and mother of 6 smallish kids. She loves the quiet life in small town SoCal. You can find out more about her here.

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