Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
The Church remembers the conversion of St. Paul on January 25. Our first reading for this commemoration is from Acts 9:1-22, the description of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
Saul was hostile toward Christianity. He, along with the other Jewish leaders, considered it to be a violation of the Jewish understanding of God as one. They didn't consider Jesus to be the Messiah. For this reason, to guard what they saw as the purity of their faith, many were determined to crush the Christian movement.
In Acts chapter 9, Saul makes a trip from Jerusalem to Damascus with the intention of arresting and imprisoning Christians there. The ultimate goal would be to bring them to trial and have them executed. Saul had a reputation, apparently, for carrying out this process. When the Lord speaks with Ananias of Damascus in a vision, Ananias already knows that Saul is coming to town and is a danger.
In the midst of his anger, his furly against the Christians, Saul is confronted by the Lord, who sais he needs to stop his attacks on Christians. Convinced by this supernatural encounter, and blind as a result of the bright light he sees, Saul is led into Damascus by the hand and spends several days in prayer, waiting on further instructions from God.
Who comes? Ananias comes. He prays that Saul would receive his sight. Receiving his sight again, Saul arises and is baptized. He begins then to persuade people that Jesus is the Christ.
Most of us don't have such spectacular stories of our conversion. In fact, most of us were either raised in a Christian family and have believed Jesus as long as we have known, or we were convinced of Jesus by someone who brought us Biblical arguments at some point in our lives. The Holy Spirit doesn't just go around knocking people down and confronting them. He is able to, but it isn't the way most people learn of the Gospel.
Yet all Christians, like Paul (Saul's Greek name, and the name we know him better by), are called to bring Jesus with them into every part of life. We are to be guided by the Holy Spirit and to be sensitive to the needs of those around us. We bring the message of Jesus and his redemptive love to those around us, whether in Damascus, Jerusalem, or your home town.
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