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January 25, 2016

Conversion of St. Paul

Acts 22: 3-16

I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I went there in order to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment. While I was on my way and approaching Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Then he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. I asked, ‘What am I to do, Lord?’ The Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.’ Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus. A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there, came to me; and standing beside me, he said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight!’ In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice; for you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.’ New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation.  

The Skilled Potter

God is a skilled potter who is not at all afraid to immerse his hands into the work of molding, kneading and re-shaping us. I pray with this image a lot. It reminds me of something a spiritual advisor once told me: do you not think that God cannot re-mold you, if only you let Him? We know the story of Paul’s conversion well: his zealousness for the persecution of the new, fledgling followers of Jesus of Nazareth is documented in the Acts of the Apostles. His conversion would have raised red flags. As Ananias says, “Lord, I have heard . . . what evil things he has done.” Yet it is God, not us, who kneads and molds. Even Paul’s zealousness can be used by God to proclaim the good news. How might God knead and shape us, even the parts of ourselves we can’t imagine being helpful to spread the Gospel? —Dan Finucane teaches theology and coordinates Campus Ministry activities at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis MO.  

Prayer

O Lord, you search me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand. All my ways lie open to you…. If I take the wings of the dawn and dwell at the sea’s furthest end, even then your hand would lead me, your right hand hold me fast…. O search me, God, and know my heart. Lead me in the path of life eternal. —Psalm 139
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January 25, 2016

Conversion of St. Paul

Acts 22: 3-16

I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I went there in order to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment. While I was on my way and approaching Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Then he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. I asked, ‘What am I to do, Lord?’ The Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.’ Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus. A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there, came to me; and standing beside me, he said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight!’ In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice; for you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.’ New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation.  

The Skilled Potter

God is a skilled potter who is not at all afraid to immerse his hands into the work of molding, kneading and re-shaping us. I pray with this image a lot. It reminds me of something a spiritual advisor once told me: do you not think that God cannot re-mold you, if only you let Him? We know the story of Paul’s conversion well: his zealousness for the persecution of the new, fledgling followers of Jesus of Nazareth is documented in the Acts of the Apostles. His conversion would have raised red flags. As Ananias says, “Lord, I have heard . . . what evil things he has done.” Yet it is God, not us, who kneads and molds. Even Paul’s zealousness can be used by God to proclaim the good news. How might God knead and shape us, even the parts of ourselves we can’t imagine being helpful to spread the Gospel? —Dan Finucane teaches theology and coordinates Campus Ministry activities at St. Louis University High School in St. Louis MO.  

Prayer

O Lord, you search me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand. All my ways lie open to you…. If I take the wings of the dawn and dwell at the sea’s furthest end, even then your hand would lead me, your right hand hold me fast…. O search me, God, and know my heart. Lead me in the path of life eternal. —Psalm 139
Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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