by Sr. Marie Fennewald, CPPS, O’Fallon
Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.
St. Paul was the most unlikely convert to the Church. We can also say he was the least likely apostle to the Gentiles. He was a staunch Jew. For him to accept the call to be an apostle to the Gentiles required a conversion equal to the one in this reading. How did Paul come to this conversion? Perhaps what prepared Paul for this call was the three days in darkness. What was his prayer during these days? Did he perhaps ponder Stephen’s prayer of forgiveness? Did he wrestle with what he fought against and come to know the Jesus he was persecuting? He already knew about Jesus. Now he came to know the Jesus for whom he would give his life. The Gospel today requires of us times of quiet. Faith in the Eucharist calls us to recognize our brothers and sisters today as the Body of Christ. Like St. Paul we are called to bring Jesus not just in our inner circle, but to those who have not heard of God’s love. The refugee, the immigrant, the stranger in our midst are also the body of Christ. Hopefully, we will not hear Jesus say, “Why are you persecuting me?”