HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL
HOMILY THEME: RISE AND BE BAPTISED AND WASH AWAY YOUR SINS
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
“The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Just One and to hear a voice from his mouth; for you will be a witness for him to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” Acts 22:14-16.
This story has been told several times and I consider it quite fitting to today’s reflection. It is the story of Thomas Edison, the inventor of the Electric bulb. When Edison’s team had fabricated that first light bulb, Edison turned and surveyed each of his co-workers as if he was sizing each of them up. After surveying them all, Edison handed the light bulb to a young boy who was helping in the lab, entrusting him with the very delicate task of carrying the first light bulb ever produced upstairs and placing it gently into a vacuum machine.
Needless to say, this bulb was very precious and the boy knew it. Step by step he cautiously watched his hands, obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work. But the boy was concentrating so hard on making sure that the bulb didn’t slip from his hands that he forgot to watch his feet. He tripped at the top of the stairs and dropped the bulb and it shattered.
Undeterred by the setback, Edison put his team back to work. Their effort to construct the second light bulb consumed an additional 24 hours. Exhausted from so much work and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have his bulb carried up the stairs again. He once again looked around and surveyed each of his co-workers to determine who would carry the bulb upstairs.
Everyone was shocked when Edison selected the young boy who had dropped it the first time. Edison knew that the boy was probably devastated by the first incident. He decided to give the boy another chance. This time the boy successfully completed his task.
Today we celebrate the fact that God looked around all the men living in the world and decided to give a second chance to the very man who was all out to destroy Christianity. The same man who went about from house to house dragging Christians to jail, the same man who supervised the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, the same man whose zeal for the destruction of Christians would put him on a missionary journey with letter of permission, became the greatest missionary to promote the Christian Faith. That is God for you.
The beauty of St. Paul’s conversion was that the moment he rose from his feet, he never went back to his former ways. From that day, he saw himself as a completely different person. According to St. Peter, if we repent, there should be no going back otherwise, we become worse for it. 2nd Peter 2, 20 to 22 states: “For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment that was passed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “The dog turns back to its own vomit,” and, “The sow is washed only to wallow in the mud.”
May we never return to our vomits in Jesus Name! As some people would say, no matter how you wash a pig, it will look for mud again. My thinking is that the kind of washing a pig requires is not the washing of the outer skin but the washing of the heart, the washing of that which makes the pig love mud. This is what true repentance means. It means changing your heart, changing the things that give you joy, changing the things you love and desire even in secret. Repentance is changing the things that make you love to dance in the mud, changing your belief in yourself, it is telling yourself that you can do without sin, that you will not die if you let go of those past behaviours.
When Saul fell to the ground, he heard the voice of Christ saying: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Let us always remember that when we face persecution for the sake of our faith, Jesus Christ himself shares in our pain. Conscious of his presence in us, we would not only stay away from sin, we would make use of His Power working through us. As Jesus told us in today’s Gospel passage, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16, 17 to 18.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace of total repentance today. Amen
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. (Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle. Bible Study: Acts 22:3-16 and Mark 16:15-18).