St. Paul, The Conversion of
Name: St. Paul, The Conversion of
Date: 25 January
The great Apostle Paul, named Saul at his circumcision, was born in Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia,and was by that privilege a Roman citizen, to which quality a great distinction and severalexemptions were granted by the laws of the Empire. He was early instructed in the strictobservance of the Mosaic law, and lived up to it in the most scrupulous manner. In his zeal for theJewish law, which he believed to be the divine Cause of God, he became a violent persecutor ofthe Christians. He was one of those who combined to murder Saint Stephen, and then he presidedin the violent persecution of the faithful which followed the holy deacon’s martyrdom. By virtueof the power he had received from the high priest, he dragged the Christians out of their houses,loaded them with chains, and thrust them into prison. In the fury of his zeal he applied for acommission to seize in Damascus all Jews who confessed Jesus Christ, and to bring them in bondsto Jerusalem, that they might serve as examples for the others.
But God was pleased to manifest in him His patience and mercy. While Saul was journeying toDamascus, he and his party were surrounded by a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, andsuddenly the chief was struck to the ground. And then a voice was heard saying, “Saul, Saul, whydo you persecute Me?” And Saul answered, “Who art Thou, Lord?” and the voice replied, “I amJesus, whom you persecute.” This mild admonition of Our Redeemer, accompanied with apowerful interior grace, cured Saul’s pride, assuaged his rage, and wrought at once a total changein him. Therefore, trembling and astonished, he cried out, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me do?”Our Lord ordered him to proceed on his way to the city of Damascus, where he would beinformed of what was expected of him. Saul, arising from the ground, found that although hiseyes were open, he saw nothing.
He was led into the city, where he was lodged in the house of a Christian named Judas. To thishouse came by divine appointment a holy man named Ananias, who, laying his hands on Saul,said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your journey, has sent me that youmay receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” Immediately something like scales fellfrom Saul’s eyes, and he recovered his sight; then he arose and was baptized. He stayed a fewdays with the disciples at Damascus, and began immediately to preach in the synagogues thatJesus was the Son of God. Thus a blasphemer and a persecutor was made an Apostle, and chosenas one of God’s principal instruments in the conversion of the world.