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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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Conversion of St. Paul

Acts 22:3-16 or
Acts 9:1-22
Psalm 117:1-2
Mark 16:15-18

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meet your enemy

"Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man." —Acts 9:13

David encountered his enemy, King Saul, in a cave while Saul was going to the "bathroom." Saul was hunting down David to kill him. David found his enemy in a vulnerable position, and refused to harm him (1 Sm 24:4ff). "For if a man meets his enemy, does he send him away unharmed?" (1 Sm 24:20) The implied answer is "No."

Ananias encountered his enemy, Saul of Tarsus. Saul was hunting down Ananias and all Christians in Damascus to arrest them (see Acts 9:2; 26:10). Saul was in a far more vulnerable position than King Saul; he was blind and had not taken food or drink for three days (Acts 9:9). It would have been amazing if Ananias simply sent Saul away unharmed. Yet, in obedience to God, he proclaimed the good news of the risen Jesus to Saul. When Ananias laid his hands on Saul, the Lord healed Saul's blindness, baptized him, and filled him with the Spirit (Acts 9:17-19). The man who in his fury (Acts 26:11) and blasphemy (1 Tm 1:13) would have put Ananias to death was now filled with the Spirit (Acts 9:17).

When Saul (now Paul) converted to Christianity, he also met his enemy, a jailer who chained him to a stake. When an earthquake struck, Paul was set free and the jailer was about to kill himself with his sword. When Paul met his enemy, did he send him away unharmed? No, Paul forgave his enemy, spared his life, and baptized him into salvation in Jesus (see Acts 16:24-33). The world will know we are God's children by our love for our enemies (Mt 5:44-45).

Prayer:  Father, may I leave my enemies filled with the Holy Spirit.

Promise:  "The man who believes in [the good news] and accepts baptism will be saved." —Mk 16:16

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

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

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 27, 2011

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