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Blind to truth

St. Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” We heard this in the second reading. Recall that St. Paul was named Saul before his conversion to Jesus Christ. Saul was a Jewish Pharisee who knew the laws of his Jewish faith, and even bragged about how pious he was.

Saul was a man of prominence and he consented to having a fellow Jew, Stephen, stoned to death. Stephen believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, but Saul believed that he was wrong, and had him murdered. Up to this moment, Saul never met Jesus. Nor did he allow Stephen to bring in witnesses of those who had been cured by the Lord Jesus. Saul probably knew that Jesus had been crucified, and that his followers believed that he had risen from the dead.

But this was too much for Saul, who believed that God alone is the sovereign Lord. As smart as Saul was, for some reason he ignored the fifth commandment, “Thou shall not kill.” Why is it that we should not kill innocent life? Because God is the sovereign Lord and defender of every human life.

The inordinate pride of Saul, fueled by his power and prestige, blinded him to this truth. Saul believed that God was sovereign, but then Saul decided to ignore the fifth commandment, “Thou shall not kill”, and had St. Stephen killed.

Saul traveled to Damascus to persecute more Christians. But then the Risen Lord Jesus appeared to him in blinding light and said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And Saul responded, “Who are you, Sir?” And the Lord responded, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” (Cf. Acts of the Apostles, 9:1-19) Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could not see. His spiritual blindness was now manifested in his physical blindness.

For three days Saul could not see. He did not eat or drink, but spent his time praying. The Lord Jesus then sent him a Christian, Ananias, who at first doubted that God wanted him to go and pray over Saul. Yet, the Lord told Ananias that Saul was his chosen instrument to preach the saving truth to the Gentiles and to the Israelites; and to suffer much before entering into glory. Thus, when Ananias met Saul, he said to him, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus, who appeared to you on the way … that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 9:17. Immediately things like scales fell from the eyes of

Saul and he regained his sight. He then was baptized in

the Name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He stayed with the other disciples and began proclaiming in the synagogues that Jesus Christ is the Lord, the Son of God, the Lord of life and salvation. Saul spoke with great persuasion, and soon the leading Jews plotted to murder him, but his fellow Christians helped him escape.

Saul became St. Paul, because God saw his fasting and praying, and his sincerity to understand God as the sovereign of life and salvation. The Lord Jesus had mercy on Saul, and through the love of Christ and his followers, Saul cooperated with God‟s grace, repented, sought holiness, and became St. Paul by living the Ten Commandments and celebrating the Seven Sacraments. St. Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Cf. 1 Cor. 11:1 St.

Paul continues, “hold fast to the traditions, just as I handed them on to you... For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, „This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me‟…

“Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord… For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.” Cf. 11:17-32.

The conversion of Saul was manifested by his fasting and prayer; and then God called him to serve the Christian community – the Church. God rewarded him with Christians who saved his physical and spiritual life. St. Paul realized that the natural laws of human life – The

Ten Commandments written on every heart – need to be followed so that the supernatural law of God‟s grace can save us spiritually. He saw that human laws must not contradict God‟s laws, and that it is the Christian community who helps promulgate and support both the natural law of life, and the supernatural law of God‟s grace.

We stand at the threshold of the season of Lent, and at Holy Trinity Church I offer a special Shrove Tuesday Mass, Feb. 13, 6:00 PM (after Confessions from 5:00 – 5:50PM) in honor of the Holy Face of Jesus, who appeared to Saul to convert him.

Let us take time to seek the Lord like Saul, so that we can become like St. Paul, who allowed himself to be prayed over and saved by Ananias and the Christian community. For St. Paul lived a life of sincere fasting, prayer and almsgiving out of love for God and the salvation of others – the essential spiritual disciplines of daily Christian life, but emphasized during Lent that we might truly see and discern “the body” of Christ.

Sincerely in Christ,

Fr. Thomas McCabe


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