Feast of Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle
(Acts 22:3-16; Matthew 16:15-18)
A Catholic man tells of his experience praying with Bill Ivie, a Pentecostal with whom he worked. He says that Bill was bold in witnessing to the Lord. One day, he relates, Bill invited him to pray in the hospital for a five year old boy who had inoperable tumors behind his eyeballs. They held hands and prayed. Two days later the tumors disappeared. The story witnesses to the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise made in today’s gospel. It also testifies to the reconciliation which the Week of Christian Unity culminating today should bring.
Throughout the gospels Jesus heals many persons. Yet not all who came to him with illnesses are cured (Mark 6:1). Be it for lack of faith or some other reason some sick people leave him disappointed. Prayer does make a difference as Jesus indicates at one point (Mark 9:29). Those who pray to him with faith should expect to witness miracles. But they must be patient and not expect their wishes to be fulfilled in every case or even most cases. They should find, however, that prayer inevitably changes the situation.
We should seek opportunities to pray with people of different faith traditions. Praying for peace or for mercy with Protestants fortifies the bonds that already exist because of a common Baptism. We will respect them more for their reliance on God. And they will understand better that we Catholics too live by faith.