Sometime, many years ago, after having heard the reading of this account of Saul’s miraculous conversion, my mother remarked, “God knew what he was doing in converting St. Paul; if he had been fighting against us, we wouldn’t have had a chance!” The remark, of course, captures a great truth about this man, his life and his conversion.
Saul (also known as St. Paul) was a firebrand, zealous to stamp out this new “Way,” the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. In a flash, he is knocked from his horse, encounters the risen Lord Jesus, and his life is changed forever. But what has changed?
When we read the letters of St. Paul which form such a large portion of the New Testament, we know for sure that one thing which did not change was his fire and zeal; that fire and zeal, however, found a new direction. The one who worked against the Christian faith and way of life now becomes its chief proponent. All the energy that was directed to defending his Jewish heritage, he now pours out in service of Jesus, Lord and Savior. God changed the direction of that energy, but left its force intact.
Paul reminds us of the great respect that God has for the human nature which he has created in us. Conversion to the faith, or to greater faith, never destroys the person or personality, but re-directs it to a new and deeper goal. In fact, conversion makes us more the person whom God has created us to be.
Lord Jesus, may the blinding light of your resurrected glory draw us to direct all of our thoughts, desires and energy to you. Change us into the persons whom you have created us to be!
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