I was on that journey and nearly at Damascus when about midday a bright light from heaven suddenly shone round me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" I answered: Who are you, Lord? and he said to me, "I am Jesus the Nazarene, and you are persecuting me."
After this vision, Saul was given the name "Paul". He spent several years contemplating on his life and gradually allowing his conversion to grow deeper, more complete and more rooted in his heart. Finally, he became one of the greatest apostle in the early days, so much so that his letters take up many parts of the bible, teaching us how we too can live as an apostle of Christ.
Today, we can learn from St Paul. We can examine ourselves and identify the people we are persecuting. To name a few more common groups of people - the foreign workers, maids, construction workers, taxi drivers, the beggar along the underpass, the dustbin collector, etc. It could even be our neighbour or someone living under the same roof!! Who are we persecuting? Who have we treated unfairly? Who have we robbed human dignity and respect from? Some of us persecute ourselves too when we allow ourselves to feel inferior, that we are lacking, not good enough; we are rejecting ourselves whom God has created in His image and likeness. Who have we excluded from our list of people we show love and care towards?
And Jesus is asking us today like He did to Saul, "Why are you persecuting me?" Why have we refused Him love, the sharing of our blessings with others? It is Jesus whom we are persecuting since He is present in every human person. And it is only when we have seen Jesus and experienced Him that we will stop persecuting Him and start loving Him in all His peoples. We will begin to look at the road sweeper with a different perception - that which encompasses love and love alone.
Conversion is not an overnight experience. Paul took years in a continuing process of conversion. We too cannot become Saints overnight. We need to cultivate goodness within us; change our distorted views of life and the world, set our values and focus right and so on. But like Paul, we too can experience the hope in Christ, that we are called to goodness, to holiness, and what is impossible for us to achieve alone, we can achieve with the help of Jesus. But we must desire, take time, make the effort and strive hard to continue our own conversion process.
When we receive Holy Communion, we can think it to be receiving Jesus into our bodies, our hearts and lives; we receive, agree, accept & integrate into our daily lives everything abt Him - His love for us, ways, teachings, commandments. We're nourished by His Body and Blood, strengthened by His Holy Spirit that the Father promised us through this same Jesus.
Can our hearts be truly converted? Yes. We must hold firm to our faith in this and be renewed in our hope that God will provide us with His Spirit if we but open our hearts wider each day, receive of His Nourishment daily in the Eucharist and contemplate our lives like St Paul did - examine our lives thoroughly and honestly, compare it with how we truly should live our lives, and work on the disparity. With God, we can!
26 January 2011 Wednesday