REFLECTION FOR 3RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR C), Week beginning 23 January 2022
The feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (Saul) is on 25th January. It ends the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The full account of the conversion is in the Acts of the Apostles, (9:1-19). Saul was pronouncing very vehemently against Jesus’ followers. He had requested from the high priests, letters addressed to the synagogues of Damascus. These would authorise him to formally arrest any such followers as this that he found and take them to Jerusalem.
His dramatic conversion takes place on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus. He falls to the ground, struck down by a blinding heavenly light. A short dialogue begins but he does not recognise that it is Jesus Who is calling him by name and questioning why he is persecuting Him. When Jesus has introduced Himself, he is told to go to Damascus city and await instructions. He is without his sight and so his companions must help him into the city. This privation will last for 3 days during which he fasts, taking neither food nor drink. Ananias, a disciple, has a vision. Jesus has a mission for him. He is a resident of the city and has been chosen to anoint Saul. Meanwhile, Saul is at prayer and has had a vision of a man coming to anoint him, to enable the return of his sight. Ananias is, at first, very wary. He has heard all about this man. Jesus, however, convinces him that Saul is His chosen instrument to bring the Gospel to the pagans – a task bringing him great suffering. Ananias duly anoints Saul who recovers his sight and receives the Holy Spirit, being baptised then and there. His strength returns, upon eating – a dramatic event for Saul, but also for Ananias. Saul, as Paul, would suffer greatly for Jesus – imprisonment, shipwrecks, beatings etc. He would make very effective missionary journeys. 13 of his Letters would be in the Canon of the New Testament. He would be given a feast with St. Peter (29th June).