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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

Conversion of Paul's jailer

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Acts 16:22–34
 
 
God will literally move heaven and earth to save us; God did so to lead the jailer and his family to conversion.  The fruits of that conversion were immediate: deep joy, service of others and a profound conviction in the gospel message.
 
The call to conversion is one that occurs throughout our lives.  We are called to lead others but also to be converted ourselves, and to this task we give ourselves.  But why does God seek our conversion?  What is it about the human condition that makes it so necessary?  The Church recognises that the human heart is heavy and hardened by sin and by selfishness.  It is because of this that we need a new heart.
 
Conversion is first and foremost a work of God, a movement of his grace within us.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “God give us the strength to begin anew.  It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him.  The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced.” (para. 1432).
 
It is through the continuing process of conversion that we come to know God’s love; and we come to know God’s love by gazing upon the One we have pierced.
 
This is the path that the Holy Spirit invites us to walk.  We are converted in the first instance by love, and it is by love that we will continue to be converted.
 
Father, teach me that thre is no other path but through the burning love of the crucified, a love which transformed Paul when he was carried up to the third heaven (2 Cor. 12:2) that he could say: “with Christ I am nailed to the cross.  I live , not not I but Christ liveth in me.” (Gal. 2:20 Rheims New Testament).
 
Chris
 
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Paul's Conversion

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Acts 9:1–20
 
Paul encounters the risen Christ on road to DamascusThe conversion of Saul is a profound event in Acts, but we probably need to return to the martyrdom of Stephen to understand what might have taken place.
 
Stephen’s witness to the risen Christ must have had some effect on Paul.  He had recounted the history of Israel but in a way that revealed the Israelites’ repeated rejection of God’s saving work.  Stephen wanted to show that their rejection of Jesus, who had been spoken of by the prophets, was typical of a pattern throughout their history.
 
At the heart of Saul’s conversion was a radical realisation and re-reading of the Scriptures.  For Saul the holiest day of the year would have been the feast of Yom Kippur, an occasion of atonement and repentance during which the people celebrated the covenant between God and themselves.
 
When Saul encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he came to a completely new understanding of Jesus’s crucifixion.  Far from being a justified punishment for blasphemy, he came to understand that Jesus's death was itself the holiest of events.  It was the very reality of which Yom Kippur was only a symbol.  The blood of Jesus established a new covenant – not only with the Jews but with all of humanity.
 
Through his death and resurrection Jesus has entered the very presence of the Father and has taken all of humanity with him.  At the moment of his baptism Saul – thenceforward known as Paul – entered into union with Jesus, and we share this amazing privilege.
 
St Paul, pray for us that we may become lovers of the cross.  St Joseph, pray for us that we may be custodians of the life of Christ.
 
Chris
 
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