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Saul to Paul

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle

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

I’m sure you’ve heard the story before, of Saul who was blinded by the glory of Christ and became Saint Paul. God spoke to this man who was doing so much harm to Christ’s followers, and gave him an opportunity to become a man who would do so much good in the name of the Savior. Today we as a Church celebrate his conversion, and it reminds us to think on our own.

Christ literally blindsided Saul, and his response was perfect.

“What shall I do, sir?”

This. This was the moment that Saul became the Apostle Paul, because in his response he was turning his heart to Christ.

Conversion can be big and bright and booming. There have definitely been times in my life where I needed a shake up, a wake up call. Conversion can also be small moments, where God is gently calling our attention, wanting to reveal something to us. The key is, how do we respond? Do we open our hands and hearts, accepting whatever might come from Him, and ask “What shall I do, Lord?”

Saint Paul’s story is a story of hope for us. I know it’s one for me. I fall and fail, a lot. But I am so grateful that God, in His mercy, continues to give me opportunities to respond to His Grace and turn my heart back to Him. Some of His greatest miracles are happening every day in our hearts.

Perhaps you can take some time today to approach the Lord, and pray this simple prayer of Saint Paul: “What shall I do, Lord?”

Jacqueline Skemp is a daughter, sister, wife and mother who endures living in Minnesota after leaving California for her one true love. You can find out more about her here.

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