Thought of the day
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Conversion of Saint Paul, apostle - Feast

Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church Sermon 279

Conversion of Saint Paul, apostle - Feast

Commentary of the day 

Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo (North Africa) and Doctor of the Church Sermon 279

              "A persecutor transformed into a preacher"

From heaven's height Christ's voice overturned Saul. He received a command to carry out his persecutions no more and fell face downwards to the ground. He had first to be knocked down and afterwards raised up; first struck, then healed. For Christ would never have come to live in him if Saul had not died to his former life of sin. Cast down to the earth in this way, what was it he heard? “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goad” (Acts 26:14). And he replied: “Who are you, Lord?” Then the voice from on high continued: “I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting”. The members are still on the ground while the head cries out from the heights of heaven. He is not saying: “Why are you persecuting my servants?” but “Why are you persecuting me?” 

      And Paul, who had put all his energy into his persecuting, is already preparing to obey: “What do you want me to do?” The persecutor is already transformed into preacher, the wolf has become a sheep, the enemy a defender. Paul learns what he is to do: if he has become blind, if this world's light is held back from him for a while, it is so as to make the light within shine in his heart. Light is taken away from the persecutor so that it may be given to the preacher; at the very moment he no longer saw anything of this world, he saw Jesus. This symbolizes the believer: those who believe in Christ must fix the eyes of their soul on him without paying attention to outward things... 

      So Saul was led to Ananias; the ravaging wolf is led to the sheep. But the Shepherd, who guides everything from heaven above, reassures him... : “Don't worry. I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16). What wonder is this! The wolf is led, a captive, to the sheep... The Lamb who died for the sheep teaches it not to be afraid any more.