Tuesday, January 25, 2011
|Carravaio's "Conversion of St. Paul"|
The Conversion of St Paul, which all Christendom celebrates today, serves as inspiration to us. It was on the Damascus Road as he sought to continue persecuting the Church that Saul of Tarsus experienced his conversion and became Paul the Apostle.
"Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him.
And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
And he said, "Who are you, Lord?"
And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting;
but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." (Acts 9.3-6)
Ever since, "The Road to Damascus" has become a symbol for a conversion or a change in the direction for one’s life.
We have freedom to be sinners, or to be saints. God hopes we will be the latter. He hopes we will take the road to Damascus -- to be changed. But change is never easy.
We may despair at the prospect of living a saintly life. However, we can rely on grace to transform sinners into saints. We need not do extraordinary things like many saints did, nor do we need to shed our blood like the martyrs. Grace transforms ordinary things – whether at work, in our relationships with others – into occasions of holiness.
In our work, we can practice dedication and humility in the service of others. Government and elected officials can discharge the duties of their respective positions with honesty, promoting justice, peace, progress and happiness. Magistrates and law enforcement officers can uphold justice and the rule of law moving us towards equality, peace and unity. Health workers and institutions can practice compassion in providing health care. Laborers can avoid backbiting nor stepping on others just to “climb the ladder." We can all refrain from speaking negatively of others, instead providing a word of comfort and forgiveness. Rather than sowing discord, groups can work together for the common good, not their personal interests. We can learn to value integrity, efficiency, compassion, simplicity, humility and honesty can be their own reward.
We may not experience the same dramatic transformation as St Paul did. We may journey on our own "road to Damascus" slowly, gradually. Most importantly, we must begin. We must decide to take those first few steps to experience a change of life, a whole new direction, with a sense of repentance and a sincere determination to right the wrongs we discover.