Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul
Acts 22:3-16 or Acts 9:1-22 + Psalm 117 + Mark 16:15-18
January 25, 2013
“ ‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’ ” [Acts 22:8]
The Conversion of St. Paul is such an important celebration of the Church year that it has its own proper readings. Today, then, we do not hear from Hebrews or the third chapter of Mark. Nonetheless, we can view St. Paul’s conversion through the lens of Hebrews.
One way of describing St. Paul’s conversion is from Judaism to Christianity. But we could expand on this by saying that Paul’s conversion was from one understanding of sacrifice to another. Saul was not a Levite, but his concept of sacrifice as a faithful Jew would have been based on temple sacrifices.
Christian sacrifice, however, is not of exterior things, but of what is most interior and personal. It’s a sacrifice not of animals, but of one’s very self: body, soul and spirit. When you convert to Christ, your life is over; you live no more, but Christ lives in you [see Galatians 2:20].
Few saints have more than one feast day during the year, but St. Paul has three (or four if you live in Malta). It’s not just because Saint Paul wrote about two-thirds of the epistles in the New Testament that the Church so honors him, but primarily because of the sacrifice he bore out of fidelity to the call that God gave him.