Acts 9:1-20
John 6:52-59


In the life of the early church, the apostle Paul looms large and casts a huge shadow. We are indebted to his extraordinary courage and tireless energy in preaching the message of Jesus from Damascus in Syria, through Asia Minor (modern Turkey), Macedonia, Greece, and ultimately, to the heart of the Roman Empire. In fact, when he wrote to the Romans in 55 CE he was gearing up for a new mission in Spain. 

It’s important to remember that such amazing energy and commitment was initially directed against the first generation of Christians. Paul persecuted and imprisoned them as blasphemers and as threats to Jewish communities by preaching the heresy of Jesus as the Messiah. His encounter with the Risen Lord on the road to Damascus led to a radical change. Strictly speaking, he was not converted so much as he changed his mind, coming to believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah that he eagerly expected. 

Luke relates Paul’s journey of discovery in Acts of the Apostles. Acts relates how Paul was knocked down and blinded, that he needed to be taken by the hand and introduced into a new world by Ananias, and then welcomed and nourished by the community of disciples. That can be true for us too. Sometimes we need to be shaken up so that we can see things as they really are. There are times when we need others to take us by the hand to lead us to a fuller life. God didn’t give up on Paul and neither should we give up on each other. 

Fr. Chris Monaghan CP, lectures in the New Testament and is President of Yarra Theological Union. He is a member of the Passionist community of Holy Cross in Templestowe.