Saul’s conversion is usually thought of as being
seemingly short and simple– a burst of light and then he changes
his name to Paul. However, it is apparent the events that precede
and follow the blinding light are of incredible importance to the
representation of what it means to convert to a faith in Christ.
His conversation with Christ and encounter with Ananias are tremendously
important in the process of his conversion. Saul is called by Jesus
to change, to abandon his life of persecuting and ridiculing the
followers of Christ. However, Jesus does not give an outline of
how this is to be done nor does He hand Saul a copy of “Conversion
for Dummies” and tell him that there will be an exam on Friday.
Rather, Jesus asks Saul to get up, go to Damascus, and you will
be cared for.
Ananias, when told by the Lord that he is to tend to the blind Saul
replies with doubt of Saul’s faith and reputation as a man
of hatred. However, the Lord says that He has chosen Saul. Ananias
goes on to restore Saul’s sight and solidify his faith in
Christ. Without Ananias, the conversion of Saul would not be complete.
While Jesus could have cured Saul’s blindness, He utilizes
the assistance of a human because of the mandate that He gives in
today’s Gospel: “Go into the whole world and proclaim
the Gospel to every creature.” Conversion is not an immediate
process nor does it solely depend on God. Rather, God has entrusted
the responsibility of conversion to us, and made it our responsibility
to foster and facilitate the gradual conversion of others.
While I have been a baptized Christian since infancy, I have had
numerous conversions of faith in my life. None have involved a dramatic
about-face in my beliefs; however, they have all shown me glimpses
of God through an interaction with another person. Several months
ago, I went on an immersion trip to El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico
through Creighton. While walking around these border cities I was
never struck down by a forceful light, nor did I have a conversation
with Jesus. However, I was converted by the people that I spoke
with, played soccer with, and ate with. Whether it was the volunteers
that provide food and shelter for helpless and hopeless immigrants
or discussing the meaning of happiness with a poor woman in Juarez,
my blindness was cured by the people that I met. These people were
living the message of conversion that Jesus gave to the disciples.
I was converted through interaction with others because my eyes
were opened to the Lord through interactions of compassion, justice,
and love. It is apparent through the readings today that we, as
Christians, are called to conversion and to help others in the development
of their faith.