Today’s reading: Acts 9:1-20
Saul met Christ. Out to arrest and imprison Christians, a light from the sky flashed, he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “I am Jesus” (v.5b). Then he got to know Jesus. He was brought to Damascus, where “for three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.” (v.9). Jesus had told him, “Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” (v.6). During the three days, certainly Jesus spoke to him and revealed himself more to him, and brought him to faith in him, culminating in his being “baptized” (v.18b). He also learned more about the Way as “he stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus” (v.19b). He was starting to live Christ. Having experienced total transformation, “he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.” (v.20). He started to share Christ.
Notice two realities that are very important. First, the experience of having a personal encounter with Jesus can be, or should be, one of total transformation, a true metanoia, a complete turnaround, from black to white, from blindness to true sight. Second, we must never give up on anyone. We must never consider a person unworthy, or undeserving because of being such a dreadful sinner, or hopeless because of being such an intense opponent of the faith.
Indeed, consider the case of Saul. He “was breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord” (v.1). A short time later he was already proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues. Saul was spending his whole time and energy against the faith, even asking the high priest “for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men and women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.” (v.2). A short time later he was in those synagogues, but as among those who belonged to the Way. He would go on to spend his whole life proclaiming Jesus. Saul was blind to the truth of the gospel, and this was brought to significance as “he could see nothing” (v.8b) and “for three days he was unable to see” (v.9a). But when Ananias laid hands on him (v.17b), “immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight.” (v.18a). Saul was in a wretched situation, unable to see and “he neither ate nor drank.” (v.9b). But after Ananias told him about his commission from Jesus, “he got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.” (v.18b-19a).
Saul met Jesus (v.5), was told by Ananias about his commission from Jesus (v.15-16), was baptized in the Spirit through the imposition of hands by Ananias (v.17), had the scales removed from his eyes and began to see (v.18), underwent formation with the disciples (v.19b), and began to do the work of evangelization (v.20). This is what happens through our LCS and integration of people into the parish.
Now Saul’s conversion was through a direct intervention of Jesus. It is always through the intervention of Jesus, but unlike Saul’s case (a very rare case, as he was very special, becoming an apostle by Jesus’ own appointment), the intervention happens through human instruments. That’s us. We need to share Christ, so that people would meet Christ and move on to live Christ. But even in Saul’s case, after the direct intervention of Jesus on the road to Damascus, Jesus still used human instruments. He said to Ananias, “Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul.” (v.11a). Jesus today tells us the same thing. Get up and go. He might not be as specific as in Saul’s case. But he could be saying to us, get up from your desk at the office and go talk with your co-worker. Get up from your bed and go share the good news with your neighbor. Get up from your parish service and go into the streets and knock on doors of houses. Further in Saul’s case, Jesus also used the disciples in Damascus to share the faith more with him (v.19b).
Who is the true Christian? Is is he who has met Christ, is living Christ, and is sharing Christ.
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God bless you.
“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21)