Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Conversion of St. Paul: 25 January 2012
The account of the Conversion of St. Paul is repeated several times in the Book of Acts. Paul was a citizen of Rome, from Tarsus. He was also a Pharisee, of the tribe of Benjamin and studied under Gamaliel, the most famous Rabbi of his time.
Paul was a true Pharisee, he loved God, but thought that salvation was earned by obeying the 613 Mitzvot (commandments) found in the Tanakh or Old Testament. Paul had it reversed, thinking we are saved because we obey, and he did his best to obey, to the point of witnessing the martyrdom of Stephan, and by getting warrants to throw Christians in prison, and even have them killed.
On his way to Damascus, he has an experience which transforms his life forever. He comes face to face with the risen Lord, who even suggests that Saul might be sympathetic to Christians (why are you kicking against the goads? Says Jesus to Paul). He who was spiritually blind comes face to face with Yeshua and is struck blind literally. We who are spiritually blind need to be careful when we say we see, for our sin will be greater. Paul realizes something is going on, and he fasts for three days. On the third day, Ananias, a follower of the way is directed by the Lord to go heal Saul. Ananias has some misgivings, but obeys the Lord. Saul recovers his sight and is immediately baptised. He has come from trying to be saved through obedience to obeying because he is saved. Would that all Christians would learn to thank the Lord through obedience.
Paul goes from persecuting the church, to proclaiming Yeshua as Messiah, a Messiah not only for Jews, but for Goyim (gentiles) as well, the true saviour of the world. Paul was a prolific writer and evangelist. Thirteen Epistles were written by Paul. He also travelled extensively in what is now Syria, Turkey, Greece, Crete, and Malta. We know he planned on visiting Spain, and probably did. There is also some evidence he may have made it to Britain as well. Only St. Thomas made it further than Paul amongst the Apostles.
Paul talked about a thorn in his flesh, which God would not cure, telling Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” I suggest that the thorn in the flesh (it has been identified with everything from poor eyesight to homosexuality) was deliberately not identified, so that we could each say, God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness in whatever area.
Whether we write, or preach, or go telling others about Yeshua, we need to have Paul’s enthusiasm, and his thankfulness, and great desire to spread the Good News to all nations.
Collect of the Day: Lord, as we remember your appearance to St. Paul and his marvellous conversion on this day, so move in our hearts that we would share his passion to proclaim the Gospel. This we ask in the name of Yeshua haMoshiach who lives and reigns with you and the Ruach haKodesh, one God in glory everlasting. Amen. (white)
If there is no celebration of the Eucharist today, use the lesson from Acts with m