Deacon Jim Olson’s Homily – 1-25-21

519 1-25-21 Conversion of Paul 3rd WOT Mark 16:15-18

The Grace of God changed St Paul from a persecutor of Christians to a messenger of
the Gospel.
This fact teaches us that our faith has its basis in grace and the free correspondence
of each person.
The best way to bring about the unity of Christians is to encourage personal
conversions among those around us.

Paul says, I know whom I have believed.
I am sure that he, the just judge, will guard my pledge until the day of judgement.

As a zealous defender of the Mosaic Law, Saul looked upon the Christians as a mortal threat to Judaism. He dedicated his every waking hour to the extermination of the early Church. Saul first appears in the Acts of the Apostles as one of the witnesses to the execution of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

St Augustine has observed that the final prayer of the martyr, St. Stephen, bore fruit in the life of one of his persecutors.
Sometime after that event, Saul set out with letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men, or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Thanks to the workings of the Holy Spirit and the lively apostolate of the early Christians, the Church had expanded quite rapidly despite the most adverse of conditions: Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.

Saul was travelling along the road to Damascus, breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, but God had other plans for this man of action.
It was around mid-day as he was approaching the city when suddenly a light from
heaven flashed about him. And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’

And he said, ‘Who are you Lord?’ and he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’
At this very moment Saul poses the most important question of his life to Jesus,
‘What shall I do, Lord?’ Saul was now another man. He had become Paul.
In the act of conversion, he understood everything at once.
His new faith led him to an attitude of complete self-giving in the hands of God.
What do you want me to do, my Lord? What do you expect of me?

There have been many occasions when the Lord has wanted to attract our attention, to get into our lives. He wants to reveal his wonderful plan for us.

“Blessed be God’ you said after having finished your sacramental Confession.
And you thought: it is as if I had just been born again. You then continued calmly: “Lord, what would you have me do?” And you yourself came up with the reply: ‘By the help of your grace I will let nothing, and no one come between me and the fulfilment of your most Holy Will: I will serve you unconditionally.” Amen!

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL