One Minute Reflection – 25 January – Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, Reading: Acts 22:3-16, Psalm 117:1-2, Mark 16:15-18
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” … Mark 16:15
REFLECTION – “Paul’s encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus literally revolutionised his life (…) Thus, it is important to realise what a deep effect Jesus Christ can have on a person’s life, hence, also on our own lives (…) how does a human being’s encounter with Christ occur? And of what does the relationship that stems from it consist? (…) Paul helps us to understand the absolutely basic and irreplaceable value of faith. This is what he wrote in his Letter to the Romans: “We hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law” (3:28). This is what he also wrote in his Letter to the Galatians: “[M]an is not justified by works of the law but only through faith in Jesus Christ” (2:16) (…) “Being justified” means being made righteous, that is, being accepted by God’s merciful justice to enter into communion with Him and, consequently, to be able to establish a far more genuine relationship with all our brethren and this takes place on the basis of the complete forgiveness of our sins. Well, Paul states with absolute clarity that this condition of life does not depend on our possible good works but on the pure grace of God – “[We] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24).
With these words St Paul expressed the fundamental content of his conversion, the new direction his life took as a result of his encounter with the Risen Christ. Before his conversion, Paul had not been a man distant from God and from his Law. On the contrary, he had been observant, with an observance, faithful to the point of fanaticism. In the light of the encounter with Christ, however, he understood that with this, he had sought to build up himself and his own justice and that with all this justice, he had lived for himself. He realised that a new approach in his life was absolutely essential. And we find this new approach expressed in his words: “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
Paul, therefore, no longer lives for himself, for his own justice. He lives for Christ and with Christ.” … Pope Benedict XVI – General audience of 08/11/06
PRAYER – Today Lord, we celebrate the conversion of St Paul, Your chosen vessel for carrying Your name to the whole world. Help us to make our way towards You by following in his footsteps and by being Your disciples before the men and women of our day. Grant that by the prayers of St Paul, we too may say, “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20) Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in union with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, amen.