Friday, January 25, 2013

Conversion of St. Paul

The story of St. Paul's conversion is fairly well known by most of us.  Paul, while on his way to Damascus, to arrest, and even kill Chrisitans, has an experieince of Christ.  The meeting of Jesus causes Paul to move from being a distractor of Christianity, to its foremost apostle.  This is really a situation of conversion and discipleship.

We can feel pretty smug about this feast.  Unlike Paul most of us like Jesus, we do nice things, and we do not try to make others believe like we do - to the point of persecution - as we see in the life of Saul.  While we are moved by Paul's determination and passion; it is hard to recognize the need of conversion and discipleship for ourselves.

When I was in high school ministry I would go a parish for one Mass every weekend.  It became difficult to preach, since I really did not engage these people throughout the week, and I became a bit irritated when the Pastor asked me to take a second weekend Mass, every so often.  I wanted to go home, have breakfast, and read the paper.  But I began to understand how easy it was to take up an express faith practice.  I put n my hour, what else do I need to do?

When faith and religion becomes a checklist of things to do, we lose any connection to the Paschal sacrifice and the call of our faith life.  Paul will speak about how he feels a physical pain when he tries to with-hold the preaching of the Gospel.  More so Paul knows that this preaching does not cause him to be 'liked' by everyone, nor does it come without its emotional or physical toil.  To be sure being a disciple is costly.

When we baptize we are committing ourselves to sharing a radical faith which gives life, and asks us to engage in a life of ongoing conversion and discipleship.  Unlike a 'bucket list' Baptism cannot be one of many things that I get before I die.  It is about experiencing the crucified Jesus and living with the promise of the resurrection.  It is a lifestyle of faith which nurtures and nourishes a relationship with the living Jesus.

Paul is asked to proclaim Christ crucified.  But more than offering a theology he is selfless and loving.  Like Jesus Paul goes about proclaiming good news.  Paul puts his profession of faith into the life he lives.

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