Archive for May 15th, 2019

Acts 9: Saul in Damascus

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Juan Antonio Frias y Escalante: The Conversion of Saint Paul

This is such an amazing story . . .

Peter John Cameron, O.P., refers to Paul/Saul’s fury in his June editorial in MAGNIFICAT.  He writes that this kind of rage is not to be confused with righteous anger or religious zeal because what we see at the beginning of Chapter 9 of Acts is “a kind of madness in which one loses control over oneself”.  His editorial continues to explore the sin of Paul in which the apostle himself recognizes “a divinely ordained purpose in his sin.  When Saul encountered Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9), he met the One he had been waiting for all his life . . . the One whose presence and mercy gave him strength to reject all the destructive ideas that one demonized his life . . . The root of Saul’s sin was that ‘he had lived for himself” . . . and the only way out of such self-absorbed slavery was to meet Someone else who was worth living for”.  Cameron also cites a biography of Paul by Fr. Joseph Holzner: Saul traveled through sin and darkness before he found Christ . . . When a man feels the burden of sin and guilt on his soul, he tries hard to justify himself before his own conscience and before others by increasing his false zeal, and thus he sinks yet deeper into evil”.

This explains many people I know.

Cameron continues: “No wonder, then, that Saint Paul constantly reminds us in his writings of his imperfections.  ‘I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.  Therefore, I am content with weakness . . . for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  Such conviction can be the result only of a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ”.

When we meet up with people who mutter murderous threats, who imagine scenarios that do not exist, who create havoc and disturbance rather than peace and unity, who are engaged in the downward spiral of self-absorbed slavery to sin . . . when we see this behavior in ourselves . . . there in only one course of action open to us.  We remember that the faithful do not need to fight.  The faithful must only refuse to take an action that will separate them from their God.

We cannot fix the wrongs of the world; but we must stand and witness to these wrongs . . . and we must petition Christ that he meet these murderous people as they fly off to Damascus to persecute the faithful.  We petition Christ that he meet them in a flash of light, change their hearts, heal them . . . so that they, like Saul/Paul proclaim the story of Christ in the synagogues of Damascus.

We are all on the road to Damascus.  We are all searching for that which makes sense out of insensibility.  Are we open to our own encounter with Christ?  Once we reach Damascus, what do we do?  Do we continue to mutter murderous threats?  Or do we allow the healing hand of Christ to transform us?  When we go up to the synagogue to pray, do we arrest those who do not see Christ as we do . . . or do we pray that all hearts be transformed . . . including our own?  What sort of presence do we bring to the synagogue?  What do we do with the mercy we ourselves have been shown?

We pass these gifts of Christ’s presence and mercy on.  We respond as Christ always does.

A re-post from April 30, 2012.

Image from: http://blog.londonconnection.com/2012/02/18/st-pauls-cathedral-the-tympanum-of-the-west-pediment/9951-the-conversion-of-st-paul-juan-antonio-frias-y-escalante/

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed.  MAGNIFICAT. 3 June 2008. Print.

Written on June 3, 2008 and posted today as  Favorite . . .

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