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The Conversion of St. Paul

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

Today's Feast memorializes the fateful day when St. Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus. The meeting affected not only Saul of Tarsus but the entire world as well. The day that Saul became St. Paul is perhaps the single most important event in the history of the missionary activity of the Church.

St. Luke tells the story of St. Paul's conversion in both chapter nine and in chapter twenty-two. St. Paul refers to the day he met Jesus on the road to Damascus in his First Letter to the Corinthians and the Letter to the Galatians. Each version or reference adds details to both the event and how it came to be understood by St. Paul. Depending upon the translation, the text indicates that there were witnesses to the event. However, only St. Paul both saw and heard Jesus.

As conversion stories go, St. Paul's story is probably the most dramatic; for through the direct intervention of Jesus, St. Paul was transformed from one of Christianity's most ardent persecutors to one of its most fervent evangelists. Our own experience of conversion is far more gradual and deliberate. Our experience of Jesus is more subtle. In fact, for many or most of us, conversion is a lifelong process.

Today's feast also brings to a close the week of prayer for Christianity unity. As we join with the rest of the Church in prayer today, may we find in St. Paul's story a reminder that each of us is called to turn to the Lord Jesus.

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