“As I made my journey and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’” (Acts 22:6-8)
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 letter of permission.
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. We do not even need to cry because Jesus himself feels our sorrow. Jesus said, “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!” (Matthew 10:25).
On the other hand, just as Jesus feels our pain when we are persecuted, he also feels it when we disappoint him by sin. As we celebrate the conversion of St. Paul today, we are called to look inwards and repent of our sins for there is “more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7). We serve a God of second chances. Come back to Him and He will give you another chance today.
You would never know what you are capable of doing until you give Jesus a chance in your life. You may be thinking now that you are nothing; if only you repent and make Jesus your Lord and Master, you would be shocked at what Jesus would do through you. 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).
When St. Paul converted and became a great evangelizer, God worked many signs and wonders through him. In Acts 13:11, Paul made Elymas, the magician blind for opposing the Gospel message. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed the Gospel and became a convert. In Acts 14:10, Paul prayed and a man who had been a cripple from birth received healing. In Acts 16:18, Paul cast out a demon from a girl who was possessed. In Acts 19:11-12, Paul worked so many miracles that people were taking handkerchiefs from him and carrying them to the sick. Diseases and evil spirits left those who touched the handkerchiefs.
In Acts 20:10-12, Paul laid over a boy Eutychus who had died and prayed for him until the boy was miraculously brought back to life again. Eutychus was sitting in the window and fell into a deep sleep while Paul was preaching and he fell from the window of a three-story building. In Acts 28:5, a poisonous viper clung to the hands of Paul while he was gathering sticks to make a fire on the island of Malta. The natives thought Paul would die but Paul shook the snake into the fire and nothing happened to him. In Acts 28:8, Paul laid his hands over the father of Publius and his fever and dysentery vanished.
Dear friend, come back to God today. He will not only give you another chance, He would make you His shining star. There is just no limit to what God can accomplish through you.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace of total repentance today. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 22:3-16, Ps. 117, Mark 16:15-18).