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Into the Whole World
Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle
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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to be your disciple, and to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit with sincere gratitude. Enable your words to spur me to be courageous in sharing the Good News to those you place in my path.
- Saul, My Brother: In the first reading on this Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, a seemingly minor figure appeared. We hear in the Acts of the Apostles that Ananias was a devout disciple, and respected by many, but he merited only a brief mention in two separate chapters—both related to an encounter with the Lord, and then with Saul. What are we to take from these encounters? By virtue of his reputation for persecuting those of “The Way,” Saul had rightly aroused great suspicion and fear in Ananias. However, Ananias greeted him as “Saul, my brother.” God’s love, accepted freely and channeled to others, can make even our enemies our brothers.
- Effective Apostleship: The path taken by Ananias (interestingly leading to a street called Straight) was straightforward. He was attentive to the Lord, praying and obeying. He put aside his fear and spent “quality time” with Saul, obediently recounting to him what he heard the Lord say. It was the Lord’s will that Saul would be a witness of all that Jesus had said and done to the whole world. Saul was then “sent,” sent to be baptized and then to proclaim the Good News. Praying and obeying made Ananias an effective apostle to Saul, building perfectly upon the seeds planted by St. Stephen during his martyrdom. St. Augustine has declared that had Saul not heard the prayer of St. Stephen as he was being stoned to death, we would have never had the apostle Paul. Those seeds planted by the first martyr were supernaturally activated through the blinding light and voice of Our Lord and ultimately sprouted through the effective witness of Ananias. The combination of prayer and obedience remains essential to our effectiveness as apostles.
- Heaven Sent: As Catholic Christians, we are “sent” out at the end of each and every Mass (the Latin word for Mass, after all, means “to send”). To whom are we sent? In today’s Gospel, the Risen Christ clearly desired that every creature in the whole world hear the Good News. How do we begin such a daunting task? Why not with ourselves? Sponsors of adult converts to the faith (those who have accompanied a spouse, friend, or even a stranger, through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA) often comment that their own faith and understanding has been greatly renewed through the process. Beyond programs in our churches, each of us has a myriad of resources available that allow us to go deeper in our own understanding of sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition, and each of us can call on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit available through our Baptism and Confirmation; gifts like wisdom, understanding, and counsel. Nourished in this way, and aided by the Holy Spirit, we may find ourselves sharing portions of the Good News with others long before we consider ourselves experts.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, let me rightly praise and adore you for your power and your glory and your merciful hand, which calls us sinners back to you. Guide me along your paths and allow me, like St. Paul at the end of his earthly journey, to proclaim, “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will investigate what my parish provides for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and prayerfully discern whether I am being called to contribute in some way.
For Further Reflection: The Conversion of St. Paul on Catholic Exchange.
Andrew Rawicki and his wife JoAnna live in Irving, Texas, near seven of their nine grandchildren. A convert from Judaism, Andrew entered the Church in 1991 and has been a member of the Regnum Christi spiritual family since 2001. He has served as the Regnum Christi Local Director for Dallas since July 2020.