Conversion of St Paul

St Paul ~ Melrose Abbey

By his preaching to the Gentiles, Paul laid the foundations of the churches from Jerusalem by a circuitous route as far as Illyricum.

Ecclesiastical History by Eusebius

It is common for us to refer to our Christian life as a journey.  Usually we use the term to express the ongoing nature of becoming more Christlike or to mark our belief that we are not alone but daily have God beside us as our companion.  Liturgy also underlines this idea of travelling, of journeying from Baptism to Death while between the two we have the Eucharist and Liturgical Seasons to accompany us.  However Paul, whose conversion the Church remembers today, doesn’t journey for those reasons but rather to spread the Good News.  This brings to clear focus the raison d’erte of Christian journeying, it should change us and compel us to share with others we meet along the way the purpose of our journeying.

We may not travel the miles that St Paul travelled, we may not end up getting shipwrecked as he did, we may not even have the dramatic conversion experience that he did.  However, if our journeying with Christ doesn’t change us as it changed St Paul, if we aren’t compelled to spread the Good News by and through our journey, then are we really journeying at all or are we merely stuck on a treadmill?

The dictionary defines the act of travelling on a treadmill as “a monotonous, wearisome routine in which there is little or no satisfactory progress”.  Christian journeying must be more than constantly working to remain static and it must certainly not be something that lulls us into a false sense of self-righteousness and a mistaken belief that we are doing the real thing, when we are in fact only going through the motions.  St Paul teaches us that to journey with Christ is both challenging yet rewarding beyond measure; both dangerous yet safe with him by our side; both life changing and life affirming.  Surely that is indeed something to share.

O God, who taught the whole world
through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul,
draw us, we pray, nearer to you
through the example of him whose conversion we celebrate today,
and so make us witnesses to your truth in the world.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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