Memory of the apostles

Ossza Meg

Memorial of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus. Memory also of Ananias, who baptized Paul, preached the Gospel and died a martyr. Today the week of prayer for the unity of Christians ends. Particular memory of Christian communities in Asia and Oceania.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If we die with him, we shall live with him,
if with him we endure, with him we shall reign.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 9,1-22

Meanwhile Saul was still breathing threats to slaughter the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked for letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, that would authorise him to arrest and take to Jerusalem any followers of the Way, men or women, that he might find. It happened that while he was travelling to Damascus and approaching the city, suddenly a light from heaven shone all round him. He fell to the ground, and then he heard a voice saying, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' he asked, and the answer came, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do.' The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless, for though they heard the voice they could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing at all, and they had to lead him into Damascus by the hand. For three days he was without his sight and took neither food nor drink. There was a disciple in Damascus called Ananias, and he had a vision in which the Lord said to him, 'Ananias!' When he replied, 'Here I am, Lord,' the Lord said, 'Get up and go to Straight Street and ask at the house of Judas for someone called Saul, who comes from Tarsus. At this moment he is praying, and has seen a man called Ananias coming in and laying hands on him to give him back his sight.' But in response, Ananias said, 'Lord, I have heard from many people about this man and all the harm he has been doing to your holy people in Jerusalem. He has come here with a warrant from the chief priests to arrest everybody who invokes your name.' The Lord replied, 'Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for my name.' Then Ananias went. He entered the house, and laid his hands on Saul and said, 'Brother Saul, I have been sent by the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, so that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.' It was as though scales fell away from his eyes and immediately he was able to see again. So he got up and was baptised, and after taking some food he regained his strength. After he had spent only a few days with the disciples in Damascus, he began preaching in the synagogues, 'Jesus is the Son of God.' All his hearers were amazed, and said, 'Surely, this is the man who did such damage in Jerusalem to the people who invoke this name, and who came here for the sole purpose of arresting them to have them tried by the chief priests?' Saul's power increased steadily, and he was able to throw the Jewish colony at Damascus into complete confusion by the way he demonstrated that Jesus was the Christ.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If we die with him, we shall live with him,
if with him we endure, with him we shall reign.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Paul's conversion is one of the most known episodes of the New Testament. In order to underline its importance, Luke, author of Acts, tells three times that Paul changed his life and was made a witness to the risen Jesus. What happened on the road to Damascus is the story of a vocation. Bewildered by what was happening to him, Saul asked, "Who are you, Lord?" "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he hears as a response. "I am" are the same words Moses heard. Jesus is alive. He is the one who is living and Paul is like blinded by this reality. Paul needs to be taken by hand and follow what Jesus' voice ordered him. Paul's story speaks to us of the extraordinary force of the Gospel that changes the heart and continues to change it as it does not resign to what we are. Paul's conversion regards each believer: if we do not abandon our pride and discover our weakness, hardly can we understand what it means to believe. Only when we acknowledge our poverty can we welcome the light of the wisdom of the Gospel. Paul does not change by himself, he needs a community that accompany him, he needs brothers who welcome and help him. The book of Acts also tells Ananias' initial fear and then his amazement in hearing the news of the arrival of Paul whom he considered one of the fierce enemies of the young Christian community. However, led by the Spirit, as soon as Ananias sees Saul, he goes towards him and says, "Brother Saul." Ananias does not consider Saul as an enemy anymore but his brother. Conversion does not start only from our heart but also from our way of looking at others. Ananias looks at Paul's heart with the eyes of the Spirit and the persecutor receives back his sight. Even for Paul Christians are now brothers and sisters.