Conversion of St. Paul
We celebrate today the Conversion of St. Paul. It was a great moment in the life of St. Paul and a great moment in the life of the Church. Alam naman natin kung ano o sino si Pablo bago ang kanyang pagbabagong-buhay. A persecutor of the Church became an Apostle; an opponent of Christ became his greatest missionary.
The moment of Paul’s conversion, however, did not come out of nowhere. The light that St. Paul experienced was only the final explosion of grace that had been building inside him. (Joseph Krempa) He persecuted the Christians but saw their courage. He hunted them down but saw their loyalty to Christ. He saw Stephen being executed but Stephen’s words entered into Saul’s deep memory. In all this, seeds were being planted. A fuse was lit that finally exploded on that road to Damascus.
Our words and our example are never wasted. Through them, seeds are planted and a fuse is lit.
Furthermore, Paul’s conversion on the Damascus road, is not the end of the story but a beginning. He would go to the desert, learn the faith, apprentice to the Apostles and gradually transform that moment of grace into a way of life. So it is with us. We are touched by grace at certain times in our lives – such as being part of a meaningful Christmas or Eater celebration, or attending and being moved by a spiritual retreat or recollection, or significant and life-changing events in our life, such as illness, death of a loved one, or the birth of a child. We can waste that grace by letting go as quickly as it came or we can build on it and let those moments trigger a genuine conversion and a deeper commitment to Christ. Maaari nating palalalimin ito sa pagpunta natin sa ‘disiyerto’ – tulad ng ginawa ni Pablo – of course, not in the literal sense. The desert I am referring to here is the opportunity or venue of closer and more personal encounter with God.
Lastly, the conversion of St. Paul shows us in a powerful way that we can always begin again with the Lord. Grace can come to us any time. We can always begin a new path. Like St. Paul, we are not chained to the past but can always have a fresh start with the Lord. The conversion of St. Paul teaches us that whatever our past may be, we can always have a different future with Christ.