With today’s first reading – most of us are familiar with the dramatic conversion of Saul, renamed Paul by Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the road to Damascus. His journey was motivated by an obsession to arrest, chain and bring back those preaching the Resurrection and to try to stamp out the new religion of Christianity. God, how¬ever, deliberately chose him as His instrument to achieve the opposite – to propagate the faith to the world. The greatest persecutor became the greatest propagator. Our ways are not God’s ways. We also know, as recounted in today’s gospel proclamation, that God chooses whomever he wants to accomplish his will, whether they appear to us to be appropriate or not. Who could have expected that a committed enemy of the faith would be used by God to bring the Gospel to the world outside Judaea?
While our call is usually not as dramatic, we do know that by receiving the sacrament of baptism, we too are called to His purpose. St Paul was told by God’s messenger, Ananias, of his mission to be God’s witness. We are not often so explicitly com¬missioned, however, we know that the gifts and leadings of the Holy Spirit are available to us to discern our role in the Divine Plan.
The Gospel proclamation to go and preach the Gospel to everyone applies equally to us as it did to the Eleven. The instruction is ac¬companied by promises that astounding signs and miracles would ac-company belief – demons being cast out, healing of the sick, speaking in foreign languages, immunity to the venom of deadly serpents and poisonous drink. Significantly, those powerful promises do not only apply to the evangelists, but to those who accept the Word and believe as well, meaning all of us. St. Paul’s conversion and work remind us of the self-sacrifice of priests and those in various religious orders, who leave their families and familiar communities to go and serve where commissioned, sometimes in inhospitable lands, where they risk their lives and pay the ultimate sacrifice of martyrdom for the faith.
Prayer: Abba, Father, we pray that you send your Holy Spirit into our own indi¬vidual spirits to make us open to Your Will. Amen