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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Encountering Christ On Our Road to Damascus

Encountering Christ on Our Road to Damascus

Conversion of Saint Paul
January 25

“The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart. Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him….Conversion is accomplished in daily life by …taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1432, 1435)

Today we commemorate Saul’s conversion, his 180 degree transformation by the grace of God into a tireless apostle for Christ. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of this grace at his homily at Vespers today, January 25, 2012.

“Following the extraordinary event on the road to Damascus, Saul, who was distinguished for the zeal with which he persecuted the early Church, was transformed into a tireless apostle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the story of this extraordinary evangelist, it is clear that this transformation is not the result of a long inner reflection and not even the result of personal effort. It is first and foremost by the grace of God who has acted according to his inscrutable ways. This is why Paul, writing to the Corinthian community a few years after his conversion, says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.”
(1 Corinthians 15:10)

A conversion of heart is both personal and communal as well as instantaneous and gradual. As each of us encounter God on our “road to Damascus,” Lord let us greet you with an open heart, eyes to see and ears to hear. Never give up on us, but “Lead us back to you, O Lord, that we may be restored.” (Lamentation 5:21) And that some day we may proclaim along with Saint Paul, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."(Galatians 2:20)

Conversion on the Way to Damascus - Caravaggio
The Conversion of Saint Paul (Detail - God reaching for Saul)
The Conversion of Saint Paul (Detail - Saul blinded by the light of God)
The Conversion of Saint Paul - Caravaggio  

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