“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Acts 22:7
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle. Saint Paul is definitely one of the pillars of the church, but he started out as an enemy of God’s people!
Saul was so sure he was doing God’s will. He watched as Stephen was stoned to death. He was zealous in rounding up the new followers of Christ, bringing them to Jerusalem in chains and throwing them in jail. But God did not allow him to continue. On the road to Damascus, a brilliant light flashed from the sky and he fell to the ground. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
“Who are you, Sir?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting!”
I wonder how many times Saint Paul told his conversion story, and to how many people? It was certainly dramatic, and did not need any embellishing. How many people were spellbound and turned to God because of listening to him? What marked him as a man that God wanted on His side? Perhaps it was his passion and bravery. Whatever he did, he did with conviction. God doesn't want us to be lukewarm, sitting on the fence, waiting to see which side will win. I am sure if he was alive today, Saint Paul would not be intimidated by anyone.
Saul never saw Jesus, never touched Him, never knew Him. Yet Jesus accused, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Jesus was the man Saul arrested, had chained and scourged. Jesus was the woman Saul had dragged into prison. Jesus is the maid we talk harshly to. Jesus is the beggar we ignore. Jesus is the employee we vent our anger on. Jesus is the Christian persecuted in China we do not pray for and forget about. Jesus is the baby in the womb with no voice we do not fight for. Jesus is the hungry child in Payatas we do not feed.
Lord, how many times have I, like Saint Paul, persecuted You? Open my eyes, like You opened Saul's, and make me see, just as You made Paul see, what I can do for You and Your people. Help me to bring Your light of truth into the world.