Today, we celebrate the conversion of Paul, as we hear the very dramatic account of his conversion from the Acts of the Apostles, of how he was traveling on the road to Damascus when a bright light & the voice of God came out of the blue. Perhaps many of us would like such a dramatic and clear event in our own lives when we are trying to make a decision or when we are searching for direction.
Paul felt God calling him to a very special mission: to bring the Good New of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. Paul, who had been a persecutor of Christians, ended up being persecuted himself for the faith, spending an estimated time of more than 3 years behind bars for his role in preaching the Gospel to all. I think of this whenever I go to the prisons to celebrate mass with the inmates there. Prior to his conversion, Paul had been very strict in his Jewish faith and very zealous in his devotion to God's laws. We can only imagine how strong a conversion Paul had to experience in order to stay true to his calling through so much struggle and hardship. Paul spent much of his ministry spreading the Way of Jesus to people whom the Jewish faith would have considered unclean.
Paul has had a tremendous influence on our Catholic faith, so much so that we celebrated the 2000th anniversary of Paul’s birth several years ago as declared by Pope Benedict XVI. We give thanks for the conversion Paul received in his life, and the conversions that still go on in our Church today. We have 6 individuals who are entering into full communion with our Church through the RCIA program this year in our parishes in Yazoo City and Belzoni. We give thanks for all of their journeys and stories of faith, of the enthusiasm and life that they will bring to our parish community. As we celebrate Paul's conversion today, let us truly appreciate Paul and the others who have passed down their faith to us.