“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” (Acts 22:16)
Today we celebrate the fact that God looked around all the men living in the world and decided to give a second chance to the very man who was all out to destroy Christianity.
The same man who went about from house to house dragging Christians to jail, the same man who supervised the stoning of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, the same man whose zeal for the destruction of Christians would put him on a missionary journey with letters of permission became the greatest missionary to promote the Christian Faith. That is God for you.
The beauty of St. Paul’s conversion was that the moment he rose from his feet, he never went back to his former ways. From that day, he saw himself as a completely different person.
According to St. Peter, if we repent, there should be no going back otherwise, we become worse for it. “For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment that was passed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘The dog turns back to its own vomit,’ and, ‘The sow is washed only to wallow in the mud.’” (2 Peter 2:20-22)
As some people would say, no matter how you wash a pig, it will look for mud again. My thinking is that the kind of washing a pig requires is not the washing of the outer skin but the washing of the heart, the washing of that which makes the pig love mud. This is what true repentance means.
When Saul fell to the ground, he heard the voice of Christ saying: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Let us always remember that when we face persecution for the sake of our faith, Jesus Christ himself shares in our pain.
Conscious of his presence in us, we would not only stay away from sin, but we would also make use of His power working through us. As Jesus told us in today’s Gospel passage, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18).
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace of total repentance today. Amen
Bible Study: Acts 22:3-16, Psalm 117 and Mark 16:15-18).