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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

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Conversion of St. Paul

Acts 22:3-16 or
Acts 9:1-22
Psalm 117
Mark 16:15-18

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"He is here now with authorization from the chief priests to arrest any who invoke Your name."—Acts 9:14

The Damascus Christians knew that Saul was nearing town, planning to arrest them if they spoke of Jesus (Acts 9:13-14). For days prior to Saul's coming, some of them must have had nightmares about possible imprisonment, breakup of marriages and families, suffering, and torture. Some may have had second thoughts about following Jesus in the face of inevitable suffering.

Imagine their joy when they heard that Jesus not only stopped Saul from harming them, but had converted him into a powerful evangelist. Imagine how they felt upon hearing that Jesus so identified Himself with them that when they were persecuted, He was persecuted (Acts 9:4). Can you imagine how they felt listening to Saul reduce the vocal "Jewish community of Damascus to silence with his proofs that this Jesus was the Messiah"? (Acts 9:22)

Saul's conversion surely gave these Christians great confidence that "nothing is impossible with God" (Lk 1:37). Through Saul's conversion, Jesus assured them, as He later assured Saul (now Paul), to keep witnessing without fear (Acts 18:9-10). Saul's conversion is likewise a sign for us today to never fear persecution for our faith. Jesus can instantly make sinners holy, convert persecutors to evangelists, and change enemies into allies. Don't shrink before the Sauls in your life. Tell them that Jesus is Lord. Then expect Him to do far greater than you can imagine (Eph 3:20).

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, may we never place limits on You. Use us to bring about many conversions this year.

Promise:  "Steadfast is His kindness toward us, and the fidelity of the Lord endures forever." —Ps 117:2

Praise:  "He who was formerly persecuting us is now preaching the faith he tried to destroy" (Gal 1:23). Alleluia!

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 19, 2005

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