“Go out to all the world and proclaim the Good News”

The story of Saul and his miraculous conversion whilst on the road to Damascus, is certainly a very dramatic and instantaneous event.

In a moment, Paul – at the reprimand of the words of the Risen Jesus – is challenged and transformed, ultimately becoming the great Saint Paul.

Here is the account of this event –

On that journey as I drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’. I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’

Conversion for many of us is an on-going process, perhaps, rather than instantaneous – although that latter variety of experience is more common than we might think. But maybe we have one thing in common with Paul – all too often, we have no idea of our need of conversion, until it happens.

At Mass this weekend, the Priest spoke about how difficult it can be to live conversion – how, often, people remember us as the people we were before, rather than seeing us for who we are now. And perhaps that is the whole point – that conversion really means becoming new people; the same, but different, transformed, in some way.

Conversion is a grace of God, a free gift. It is something we are offered – and we are free to accept it or to reject it. God does not force His graces upon us. Paul could have continued his life of persecuting the followers of Christ, had he wanted to. But he did not – he choose to be transformed.

For us, may the grace of conversion – a true, deep, lasting and continual process of change, of making new, of transformation – be given freely by the Lord and may we embrace it whole-heartedly.

Saint Paul, pray for us.