January 25, 2010

Conversion of Paul

In preparing to preach today I was reflecting on how this feast day arrives as a sort of 'month's mind' Mass for Christmas Day. The gospel for the Mass of Christmas Day proclaims the prologue of St. John: the true Light, "which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world." Today Paul encounters that Light, and it changes the course of his whole life.

From there I was led to a reflection on how the major appearances of Paul (the man, that is) in the liturgy all have something to do with the Light. He first appears on the day after Christmas, at the martyrdom of Stephen, where St. Luke lets us know of his consent. The Light was not yet bright. Today, a month later in liturgical time, it's Brilliance is overwhelming.

Paul's own martyrdom comes to us on the feast of Peter and Paul, more or less on the octave day of the summer solstice. The Light has reached its peak, the gospel has been proclaimed to Jew and Gentile alike, and the great apostles go to their reward.


Warren said...

The reading in the office-of-reading for this feast contains something that always makes me think.

"I did not stop to discuss this with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were already apostles before me"

This passage was always part of protestant polemics I heard in my youth (I was raised Baptist/Brethren), and was used as an argument against the authority of the Pope, even though it features a visit to the Pope (Cephas/Peter) because of the "I, alone, without consulting with anyone" phrase. In other words, it was used as the normative way someone becomes a minister of the Lord. One hears from the Lord, and one heads off to preach, without checking to see if it's okay with any big-guy in Jerusalem, or Rome.

It just occurred to me today, that the reason why Paul says this, is not because of any desire to set himself on a higher level, or above authority, but rather to give witness to a miracle, and to argue against those who would argue that his conversion was anything less than a miracle.

I think he would be very unhappy with those who have made "the least of the apostles", the greatest, or only apostle, an apostle domesticated and kept on a leash; instead of the apostle in chains, who is, in the end, as fiercely Catholic an apostle as all the others. Or so I believe.


Bruce said...

Brother Charles -

Enjoyed your reflection on the "Light" during the long days of January. Stephen saw the light as Paul later did. The fervent belief of both men inspires us and warms us today.

breadgirl said...

Thank you for a thought provoking post. God bless you.