Today we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Our first reading in Acts is Paul’s account of his conversion. Our Gospel is Mark’s version of Jesus commissioning the disciples to go out and proclaim the Gospel to the whole world. The placement of these two readings together underscores the process we must follow in our own faith journey.
How was Paul, a former persecutors of the followers of Jesus able to become one of the leaders in spreading the Gospel message to both Jews and Gentiles? How were the Apostles who denied knowing Jesus at the time of his passion able to go on their missionary journeys spreading the Good news? The answer for Paul and the Apostles is the same for you and me, namely, full conversion of mind and heart.
Everyone, even those baptized Catholic as an infant, must experience a conversion of mind and heart to fully experience God’s divine love. We can receive catechesis that helps us know about Jesus. We can receive permanent and divine graces through the sacraments that strengthens our soul. However, to live fully as children of God and disciples of Jesus Christ, we must accept the Gospel message as Paul and the other disciples did.
On this feast day in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI described our full conversion this way, “To be converted means, also for each one of us, to believe that Jesus "has given himself for me", dying on the Cross (cf. Galatians 2: 20) and, risen, lives with me and in me. Entrusting myself to the power of his forgiveness, letting myself be taken by his hand, I can come out of the quick sands of pride and sin, of deceit and sadness, of selfishness and of every false security, to know and live the richness of his love." (from address given on January 25, 2009)
Paul and the Apostles believed that Jesus died and rose for them, and that His Spirit was alive within them. Do we also believe that we have “the power of the Holy Spirit, God living within us.” When we fully accept and believe, then fully surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we will respond as Paul and the Apostles did, by bringing our joy and faith in Jesus to others.
Today’s Question for Prayer and Reflection
Do you believe that the Gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ - has power to set you free from sin, ignorance, and disbelief?