Read Acts 22:3-16, Ps. 117, Mark 16:15-18 

“Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)

Today, we are celebrating a conversion story. People repent every day. Hardened criminals become pastors, evangelists and bishops. What is so special about one man’s conversion that the Catholic Church set aside a day in the liturgical calendar to celebrate it? This is the question we shall answer in today’s lessons:

1. No Human Being is Beyond Redemption: St. Paul’s conversion story is special because it teaches us that God can call anybody. Today, we are not just celebrating St. Paul; we are celebrating hope for humanity; we are celebrating a God whose mercy knows no bounds, who can see good even in something considered detestable by human beings. We serve a God of second chances. 

2. Stop Hiding Your Sins: I once heard a medicine man on the radio saying: “If you hide sickness, sickness will hide you.” In the same way, if we hide our sins, we cannot overcome them. The day you can handle a microphone and confess your sins in public (as St. Paul did in today’s first reading) is the day you will be free. As long as we keep pretending to be saints in public while indulging in evil behind closed doors, repentance continues to elude us.

You might say: “But I don’t want people to laugh at me.” This means you are yet to face the truth; you are living in denial (lying to yourself and trying to believe the lie). Whatever you deny, you cannot treat. In my primary school days, I remember a teacher calling on me to answer a question, and I gave the wrong answer, only for my classmates to laugh. I hated being that guy who doesn’t know the answer. Before that day, I didn’t see myself as an “olodo” but when I saw them laughing, I realised I was one. By accepting the truth, I developed a hatred for that version of myself; that was the day of my conversion. 

3. To Repent is to Encounter God: Homilies don’t convert people; even our best efforts at evangelisation do not bring about repentance – God alone can break into peoples’ hearts. The story of St. Paul shows us that conversion occurs when a person encounters God, which may not even happen within the church premises. Many Christians claim to be born again (baptised) but lack this personal encounter with God. They live recklessly because they have only heard about God but have never had an experience (like that which brought St. Paul to his knees on the way to Damascus). Pray to have an experience of God that would show you that God is not just a figment of imagination. 

4. Every Sinner Needs an Ananias: By commanding us to go and preach to the whole world, Jesus is asking us to become Ananias to many Sauls in our world. Ananias was not responsible for Paul’s conversion but became the living image of God to Paul, the messenger of God’s mercy and pardon. Ananias told Paul that God had called him to be a witness. Ananias did not condemn Paul but served as a spiritual guide, teaching him until Paul got back on his feet. 

One could give Ananias the credit for opening Paul’s eyes, but we know this was God’s doing. This is the message Jesus conveys in today’s Gospel passage: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name, they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents…” Do not be scared of attempting to win a sinner for God, but remember that you are only an instrument. God will do His work in the end. 

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, give me the grace of total repentance today. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen. 

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (The Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle - Feast. Bible Study: Acts 22:3-16, Ps. 117, Mark 16:15-18). 

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu