Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Today's first reading, for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, obviously describes the conversion of Saul to Paul. Originally a young Pharisee of impeccable credentials, a conversion like this would be like a member of the Kennedy clan declaring himself to be a member of the Tea Party (or, if you prefer, Mark Levin suddenly throwing in with the Occupy Wall Street movement). What struck me today was that Saul was left blinded until a Christian, Ananias, came by and gave him some basic instruction in the Faith. Are there people around us every day who have been primed for conversion and who need a bold evangelist to help get them started? How many such opportunities have we missed because we are too wrapped up in our own issues, or because we're playing Fallout: New Vegas, instead? It's a little overwhelming and a rebuke to think how many such opportunities I've missed, and it gives me hope to remember those times in my past where I have been available and ready to help others.
Lord, help me to learn your ways, to have an answer ready for those who ask, and to do what is right that I may be in position to help when needed.
This passage, describing the many signs that will accompany the Eleven, is somewhat challenging for me. I know Bible and Church history is full of miraculous signs accompanying those evangelizing. Today, though, not only do we very rarely see such things (if ever), but we're so jaded by televangelists and "snake-handling" churches that many of us have effectively dismissed the possibility of such things happening today. I've heard stories of some of these things happening today, both from Church teaching and from friends' personal experiences. I've even been healed of a minor affliction myself, although not by laying on of hands. What does it mean for us today? Are there so few signs because we, especially in the first world, would be too cynical to recognize them for what they are?
Lord, please keep my heart and my mind open to your blessings and your signs. Surrounded by a culture that despises the holy and the supernatural, help me to stay fixed on you.
What does it mean that Paul became so like Christ that "It is now no longer I that live but Christ lives in me." Are we to be transubstantiated into hosts, like the wine and wafers at communion, for Christ? This would seem to deny our individuality and effectively destroy our selves. Rather, I think we are called to be conformed to Christ and are thus to be consubstantiated, a hypostasis where we are both Christ within us and yet our true selves as well.
Lord, help me to understand Your call to be one with Christ. Help me to be like your Son and yet to retain the individual characteristics You created in me for Your glory.