The Conversion of Saint Paul, apostle - Feast
"Even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persectutor..., I received mercy”
We must always keep in mind how much all of us are surrounded by so many proofs of the same love of God. If his justice had preceded repentance the world would have been annihilated. If God had been swift to punish the Church would not have known the apostle Paul, would not have received such a man into its bosom. The mercy of God is what transforms the persecutor into the apostle; it is this that changes wolf into shepherd and turned a publican into an evangelist (Mt 9:9). It is the mercy of God that, moved by our fate, has transformed us all; this is what has converted us.
When we see yesterday’s glutton begin to fast today, the former blasphemer refer to God with respect, one who was formerly vile only open his mouth to praise God, then we can wonder at this mercy of the Lord. Yes, my brethren, if God is good towards everyone he is particularly so towards sinners.
Would you even like to hear something strange from the point of view of our behavior but true from the point of view of our religion? Listen! whereas God shows himself demanding with regard to the just, for the sinner he has only kindness and gentleness. What strictness towards the just! What indulgence towards the sinner! Such is the novelty, the reversal God’s behaviour presents to us… And this is the reason why: to terrify the sinner, and especially the obstinate sinner, would be to deprive him of all confidence, throw him into despair. To flatter the just would be to soften the strength of his virtue, make him slacken his zeal. God is infinitely good! Fear of him is the safety of the just; his goodness brings back the sinner.
Saint John Chrysostom