Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee from a family of Pharisees.
He was greatly troubled by this ‘heretical’ group, which was spreading rapidly, converting many.
This group were the followers of Jesus.
When the Deacon Stephen was being stoned to death for ‘blasphemy’ in believing in the divinity of Christ, Saul thoroughly approved. He not only approved, but actively took part in what was happening, supporting those who were doing the stoning. This was the death of the first Christian martyr.
Saul was on the way to Damascus to arrest Christians, when he had an unusual experience that changed his life.
The risen Jesus appeared to him and asked him whey he was persecuting Him? This encounter with Jesus transformed Saul.
Saul opened his heart and Jesus directed him as to what to do. He went on to Damascus where he was Baptised by Ananias.
From a persecutor of the Church, Saul became one of its greatest missionaries. He spent time in Arabia reflecting and praying. Jesus inspired and taught him directly about many things.
Paul, as he was later known, became the great Apostle to the pagans. The zeal that was in him to try to destroy the Church, he used instead to build up the Church.
Paul allowed the risen Jesus to change him. He co-operated with the Holy Spirit in changing his basic direction in life.
Conversion is an ongoing call to all of us.
We are all programmed in our lives. We pick up good and bad. We pick up prejudices and fears, as well as wisdom and healthy things.
We all have strengths and shadows.
If we are to understand Christianity correctly, it is about being ‘fully human’. It is about being energised and free to be our true self. Free from fear, low self-perception, guilt, prejudices, etc.
It is about being partners with the risen Christ in bringing hope, justice, and peace to the world, to help all know how loved they are!
In our own respective vocations when we develop our strengths for the good of all, we find ourselves.
When we let Christ help us to let go of our shadows, we embrace true freedom.
We need to watch out that we do not get stuck in a ‘rut’ and suffocate in mediocrity!
We are called to embrace being fully alive!