Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
The conversion is not essentially a change of life, or a new way of life. It’s simply getting back to the original plan and if you wish, it’s coming back to home. Thus the conversion of Paul, is coming back to the vocation, for which God has created him and today, he has revealed it to him. Rightly, Paul has responded to God very positively.
No one can with certitude know the way God forms us and prepares us. He has his own way of preparing us. For some, it’s a joyful ride. For others, it’s a painful path. Once the call is responded positively, they will certainly appreciate the way God has formed them, and even called them. The preparation is conditioned by the mission for which you and me are called.
The priestly vocation (any vocation) is a gift offered to certain people, who are capable of fulfilling a mission, a particular mission with the talents that God has already placed in their being. Thus, the call is not a reaction or response of a moment or movement, but a fulfilment of the purpose of one's birth.
Yet, each and every one of us feels in ourselves, this call in a definitive and timely moment that God has chosen, as the hour of the call. For Paul it was on the way and God had already chosen him, even before he was born, as his apostle to the Gentile world. It was today that he realised this and was able to respond positively to Him.
God does not call anyone in the same way. We must be alert to that moment of call that God will manifest through an event, or a person, or through an internal or external feeling or sensation. Some people feel this call in their own interiority. Whatever may be our vocation, let us not forget that we are all called to be witnesses of His love and mercy.
Action of the day: Be grateful to God.
“Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature”
Fr. Josep GASSÓ i Lécera
(Ripollet, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, the Church commemorates the conversion of St. Paul, apostle. The short fragment of the Gospel according to St. Mark contains part of the address on the mission bestowed to the apostles by Jesus, resurrected. His exhortation to go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News includes the thesis that faith and baptism are necessary essentials for salvation: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:16). Furthermore, Christ guarantees that preachers will be given the faculty to work out miracles or prodigies which will support and confirm their missionary preaching (cf. Mk 17:18). The mission is big —“Go into the whole world”—, but it will not be without the Lord's escort: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).
Today's collect, tells us: “O God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we pray, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show ourselves thankful to you by following his holy teaching.” A gospel God has allowed us to know and that so many souls would desire to have: we have the responsibility to transmit this wonderful heritage to whatever extent we are able to.
St. Paul's conversion is a great event: from persecuting Jesus' followers he converted into a servant and defender of the cause of Christ. Quite often, perhaps, we have also been “persecutors”: and, as St. Paul, we need to convert from “persecutors” into servants and defenders of Jesus Christ.
With the Virgin Mary, we should realize the Almighty has also noticed us and has chosen us to share and carry out the priestly and redeeming mission of his divine Son: Regina apostolorum, Queen of the apostles, pray for us!; Give us courage to bear witness of our Christian faith in this world of ours.