Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle
(Acts 22:3-16; Mark 16:15-18)
In one sense St. Paul’s “conversion” was not much of a change. He never converted from being bad to being good. He went from zealously working for God as a Jewish inquisitor to zealously working for God as a Christian missionary. There certainly was, however, a change of perspective. He previously perceived Jesus Christ as his enemy. After his encounter with Christ, Paul recognized him as his Lord. We should see ourselves being called to a similar conversion.
Catholics have looked down on Christians of other traditions – Protestants, Evangelicals, even Orthodox – as lost souls. They have thought that it almost impossible that any non-Catholic find eternal life. Protestants especially have harbored like doubts about Catholics. They considered Catholics as superstitiously relying on the sacraments rather than making every effort to live righteously. The “Week of Christian Unity,” which ends today, affords all Christian communities opportunity to view one another more fairly.
When we do so, we will find differing strengths and weaknesses. Many Protestants have a profound knowledge of Scripture with which we come to know Christ. The Orthodox have retained an exalted sense of God as transcendent with power and majesty over all. Catholics have the pope, the primary sign of the apostolic faith and succession. We need all these values to find salvation among those who make rock stars or athletes their gods and satisfying sensual desire as their chief hope.