THE CONVERSION OF ST PAUL, APOSTLE (Feast) White
First Reading: Acts 22:3-16; Psalm: 117 R. v. Mk 16:15 ; Gospel: Mk 16:15-18
THE NEW MAN PAUL
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
Today, we celebrate the feast of the conversion of St Paul. The first reading was Paul’s defence before the enraged Jewish mob. Paul made this defence by narrating his encounter with the risen Lord. The Jews in Jerusalem had accused Paul of destroying the law and defiling the Temple because he preached to the Gentiles without constraining them to accept the demands of the Jewish law. As a result of this, they wanted to lynch Paul but were prevented by the commander of the battalion. When Paul was about to be imprisoned, he asked permission to speak.
Paul established the fact that he was a Jew brought up at the feet of Gamaliel (a prominent Rabbi and teacher of the law). Paul further stated that he was zealous for the ancestral ways and for the sake of the law persecuted Christians. By establishing these facts, Paul proved he was on the side of his people. He then narrated that it was during one of his missions that the risen Christ arrested him. Paul’s mention of Ananias (the man who restored his sight) made the crowd to listen more because Ananias was an upholder of the law and a good man. Paul ended his defence by stating that he was sent by Christ to preach to the Gentiles. And that he was not destroying the law but fulfilling it.
Paul’s encounter with the risen Lord transformed him from a persecutor to a formator. And from an executor to a defender of the faith he once detested. For Paul, ‘old things have passed away and behold the new has come’ (2Cor 5:17). This turnaround of the life of Paul reminds every baptised Christian of what it means to be in Christ Jesus. It is putting aside completely our old sinful ways of life and living not for ourselves but for Christ. So for every Christian, ‘to live is Christ, and to die is gain’ (Phil 1:21). But if we had no love and passion for the faith we profess, we would fall away. The conversion of Paul should awaken our own conversion.
Please say a prayer for the Missionary Society of St Paul of Nigeria (MSP) as we celebrate the feast of our Patron, St Paul.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Risen Jesus, renew our faith and zeal for the gospel. Amen.