Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, apostle
(Acts 22:3-16; Mark 16:15-18)
Did Paul actually undergo a conversion? The question may sound silly today when we are celebrating just that, but students of the Bible have asked it seriously. They note that there is no change in Paul’s personal behavior. He does not, for example, give up drinking or come to scorn his Jewish roots. Rather he remains avid about religion although he will admit that being Jewish cannot compare with knowing Jesus Christ.
Paul’s zeal makes him capable of accomplishing so much. He will not only fulfill Jesus’ mandate to proclaim the gospel to everyone but also encourage those whom he has evangelized with sound pastoral letters. He becomes the consummate activist with a life completely given to Christ and thus rightly terminating in martyrdom.
Such a model may scare us. “Do I want to give myself over so completely?” we may ask. But let us keep two considerations in mind. First, although Christ wants us to tell others about him, he does not call the vast majority of us to put our heads on the chopping block. Second, Christ calls each of us by name as sure as he calls, “Saul, Saul,” in the first reading today. In other words, he loves us and will care for us as we make little sacrifices for him.