HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL.
THEME: THE CONVERSION OF A SINNER.
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul.
HOMILY FOR JANUARY 25TH.
‘In those days, Saul still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord..’
We celebrate today, the conversion of Saint Paul also known as Saul (Acts 9:1-22). Humanly speaking, Saul was not a likely candidate for salvation. There was no human explanation for Saul’s conversion! But God is able to do what we can not imagine. He is able to convert most unlikely of sinners. It is said that Saul was still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. He was a man consumed with one passion, namely, to destroy the followers of Jesus from the earth. It was not enough that he had broken up the Jerusalem church after Stephen’s death. Now, he wanted to go 125 miles to Damascus to find any followers of Christ so that he could bring them bound to Jerusalem. The early Christians had not yet broken away from the synagogues, and so the high priest in Jerusalem had jurisdiction, even in Damascus.
He didn’t care if he took fathers and mothers away from their children. Wickedness travels without counting costs. He had such an intense hatred for Jesus Christ and His followers that he felt that any suffering he inflicted on them was right. Perhaps he justified his zeal by pointing to Phinehas, who, out of righteous zeal for the Lord, had speared the Israelite man and the Moabite woman whom he had taken into his tent (Num. 25:6-15). Saul was zealous for the Law of Moses, and these followers of Jesus were spreading a pernicious heresy in Israel. And so as Saul and his henchmen approached Damascus, perhaps they were bragging about all of the stupid people that they would round up in their efforts to destroy them.
Before a man becomes a saint, he must first see himself as a sinner. So the Lord asks, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” The repetition of his name shows the Lord’s tender concern for him, as when He said, “Martha, Martha,” or “Simon, Simon,” or “Jerusalem, Jerusalem” (Luke 10:41; 22:31; 13:34). By the pointed question, the Lord was not trying to gain information! Rather, He wanted Saul to consider what he was doing. He thought that he was zealous for the Lord, but in reality, he was persecuting Jesus Himself. With every Christian he harmed, he was plunging the sword again and again into the wounded side of Jesus! When we hurt and harm others, we do so to their Creator. The pains of helpless individuals are the pains of their God. We should be careful!
Pride is the root of all sins, and we all must fight it every day. But no one gets saved who boasts in his own righteousness. No one gets saved who thinks that his good deeds will commend him to God. No one is saved who thinks that his own brilliant choice attained it for him. Saul went storming off to Damascus with authority to arrest Christians. He had power on his side. But after the Lord struck him down, he had to be led by the hand into the city. At first, he was independent and strong; afterwards, he was dependent and weak. No one is truly trusting in Christ for salvation who is boasting in himself. No matter how boastful we are of our power and position, we remain humans. We can’t be God. The frailty of life has shown that we are all helpless in the hand of external fate.
We can’t conclude on anyone. An ardent sinner may be a potential saint. We should stop being judgemental because the verdict of time may be in favour of those we have already condemned. GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. God bless you and your household always through Christ our Lord Amen. You are always remembered in my prayers. Good morning.
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