Friday of the Third Week of Easter
Today we hear the dramatic story of the Conversion of St. Paul. Paul was lucky. His conversion came quickly in a dramatic fashion leaving him with few doubts as to what he should do. It would have been hard for him to miss what the Lord Jesus was trying to tell him. “Why are you persecuting ME?” Now that was a confronta¬tion if ever there was one. No doubt it left Saul stunned. He was blinded and really kind of helpless. Others had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. He had to turn to someone else to be restored and to receive his sight. He had to accept help from another. Once Ananias visited him, laid hands on him, his sight was restored. He was baptized. And he soon began to proclaim Jesus as the son of God.
Yes, God works in strange ways, though not often dramatically as this. God spoke to Paul directly and clearly. Our stories are not quite the same. We are not persecuting the Church, nor fighting against God’s ways. But we are still on a road seeking fuller conversion. We are all still on a road which leads any number of places. Sometimes we are not sure where. We think we know the direction. Sometimes we seem to be quite sure of what we are about. Sometimes we are not too interested in any other view or new direction. Even then, it is not likely we will be struck to the ground and clearly told how we are drifting in the wrong direction. We do not get the dramatic signs of what God wants, what is most helpful for us. Our lightning bolts are much more subtle. We must look for them. But such messages are there, and they do come to us often from unlikely sources when we least expect it. From the people we live and work with, from everyday events. The impact may be just as startling as with St. Paul. We may be left bewildered, uncomfortable, humbled.
Our challenge is to hear God’s message to us whenever from whomever it comes. If we hear the voice of the Lord then, we will really see. It might be more difficult, but the effect is perhaps even stronger. This is the way we are strengthened, the way we grow. This is the way God works in each of us.
Reflection by Fr. Peter Ullrich, OSB