Today, January 25th, we celebrate the feast of the conversion of St. Paul. Paul originally was known as Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a bad guy. He was a real persecutor, even a murderer, of those who believed in Jesus Christ. He was a ruthless soldier, determined to eliminate those who believed.
Saul of Tarsus was not a guy to mess with.
The conversion of Paul is one of my favorite stories. On his way to Damascus, Saul was struck down off his horse by a bolt of lightning, and blinded. He heard a voice calling to him. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” The voice said to him, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.”
Saul was instructed to continue to Damascus and to pray. Jesus sent Ananias to find Saul and help him with his conversion. Ananias restored his vision and told him “God has designated you to know his will, to see the righteous one, and to hear the sound of his voice. For you will be His witness before all to what you have seen and heard.”
(And here’s the best part)…
Ananias told him “Now, why delay?”
With that, Saul became a ruthless warrior for Jesus Christ. Talk about a 180 degree turnaround! Some of Paul’s letters that we read in the Liturgy carried the deepest meaning and the greatest thoughts. What God was able to see in Saul was his tireless ambition and drive. Until his conversion, Saul was using that ambition and drive in the wrong direction.
The message I take away from Paul’s conversion is that:
Anyone can have their eyes opened,
Anyone can still learn a new thing or two, and
Anyone can still come to believe in the hope in Jesus Christ.
It’s never too late to become a warrior for God.