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The Conversion of St Paul
Apostle (occurred in 34)
Here in my prison of a cubicle, I have little to do but pray for you and my other relations, and consider the wise and mysterious mercy of God. I find it especially hard to put up with my cruel and faithless guards. They never smile, they never speak – they just act as if I were some kind of gerbil. That’s why today’s feast of the Conversion of St Paul gives me so much hope. He was the worst of sinners (he himself admits it) because he violently persecuted the Church. He hated the Christians and did everything possible to stamp out their faith, even if it meant stamping out their lives. Remember how he stood there and held the cloaks of St Stephen’s assassins, watching approvingly as the great deacon was stoned to death? And yet, Christ changed his heart! All it took was that bright light and the Savior’s voice addressing him on the road to Damascus, and Paul was changed forever. So you see, my esteemed niece, no one is beyond the hope of conversion!
We must be bold and generous with our prayers and our efforts – reaching out to everyone with the truth and love of Christ, especially those who seem most opposed to what the Church stands for. Why not befriend those who publicly attack the Church? Why not get to know the leaders of the groups who most oppose what your group is trying to accomplish? Why not be an instrument of God’s grace for those who need it most? Are they too hardhearted for God? Are they beyond his love? Are they worse than Paul was before he met Christ? Our Lord himself actually commands us to do this: “I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?” (Matthew 5:44-47) Christianity is expansive; great sinners make great saints; we can never underestimate the power of God – what seems impossible for us is quite possible for him.
So, my young apostle, as I always say, don’t get comfortable preaching only to the choir. Of course, on the other hand, don’t compromise your own integrity by taking on the vices of those you are trying to win over for the Kingdom. Keep on “rowing out into the deep” and “letting down your nets,” and trust that the Lord will keep helping you reel them in.
God bless, Uncle Eddy