January 25, 2023

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle

How did Saul of Tarsus, Roman citizen and Jewish enforcer, ever become Saint Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles, spreader of the Good News of Jesus Christ to a myriad of hamlets, towns, and cities on two continents of a hostile pagan world? The first reading quotes Paul about his encounter with Jesus and his conversion on the road to Damascus.

Saul was a Pharisee but also a Roman citizen due to the special status Emperor Augustus had given Tarsus. He was sent (or taken) 300 miles south to Jerusalem to study with the revered rabbi Gamaliel. After years of study, his intellect and zeal moved him into the ranks of the Temple elite, protectors of God’s chosen people and their worship. (Acts 7 and 8 place Saul at the death of Stephen, venerated as the first Christian martyr: Saul held the cloaks of the murderers!) Hearing reports of Jewish heretics in Damascus embracing the Christian faith, he sought authority to capture the apostates and bring them to Jerusalem for trial and punishment.

But on the way, he met Jesus, who asked him, “Why are you persecuting me?” There must have been a resounding crash in Saul’s mind when all he knew from years studying the Law and the Prophets came together with every word he had heard Christians preach: he now saw Jesus the Christ as the Messiah long foretold. The incredible light, the fall, the blindness: not God’s way of coercing him. Just big punctuation marks as he turned to salvation: you are one of the fallen who once was blind; now you have seen a great light. Saul repented, was baptized, took a new Roman name, and began his mission: spread the good news to the great world.

Let Us Pray:

Dear God, Open our eyes to see the light, to illuminate the way to your kingdom, and the tremendous eucharistic banquet promised to those who love you. Amen.


Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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About Dan Lewis

Dan is an Associate of the Blessed Sacrament of Saint Paschal Baylon in Highland Heights, Ohio.