Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Conversion of Saint Paul and the Seminarian

First, he has a history…with tents, a Cilician  Jew, at Gamaliel’s feet, a zealot of a somewhat violent temperament.

Just like you.  You have a history.  A narrative with inspired chapters and some whose pages you might wish to read more quickly. Like you. An engineer, or oceanographer.  A religious ed director, or a manager at Target.  Of  Dorchester, Providence or North Adams or Millbury.  Who used to sit at the feet of the Jesuits or the Dominicans or a secular brood.  Of a peaceful, unsettled or inquisitive mood.

Like you, as well when along the road he is blinded by the light and knocked off your high horse.  

Maybe it was after that relationship crashed and burned, or that old lady made you cry, or you found such solace sitting in front of the tabernacle or that course made such sense of it all or…  On whatever road, you, like Saul, were blinded by the light and knocked off your high horse, just left lying there by the side of the road.

But then what happened?  You’ve been blinded the light…now what?  You meet Ananias, who teaches you to see again,.to see rightly.  At first, you only see him, but then he teaches you about the “the God of our ancestors” and how “the Righteous One” has chosen you to “hear the sound of his voice” and “witness before all to what you have seen and heard.”

Maybe this Ananias has a last name like McLaughlin or O’Connor, Cessario or Scorzello or Salocks, Riley or McRae.  Maybe he’s Ananias Moroney or Pignato, but he is the one who God has sent to open your eyes and your ears that you might see and hear the one who is the blinding the light.

And then there is the mission.  You long for it.  You prepare for it in this holy house, where you can hear the voice behind the light calling to you:  ‘I chose you from the world…go out and bear fruit that will last”1 ‘Go into the whole world…drive out demons, speak new languages, lay hands on the sick” and proclaim my Gospel to every creature.’2

So, today we celebrate the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul, as we celebrate our own conversion and call, formation and mission, that we might be “witnesses to [Christ’s] truth in the world.”3


1 - Conversion of Saint Paul, Gospel Acclamation.

2 - Cf. Mark 6:5-18.

3 - Conversion of Saint Paul, Collect.