Many of us are familiar with the French saying, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Most often it is said with a sense of resignation, and cynical hopelessness. In today's first reading we see, however, how something or someone can remain fundamentally the same and yet change.
Paul describes his former life of persecuting Christians as one driven by extraordinary zeal. We might call him today a fanatic. What is worth noting is that God did not remove this quality from his personality he simply redirected it. Paul remained to the end of his life as zealous as he ever was. The zeal was simply redirected.
The same is true with each of us. The more we come to understand the human person, the more we come to understand that we are not infinitely malleable Our basic personality stays the same. This does not mean however that we have permission to simply throw up our hands and say,"Well, that's just the way I am."
Are you a person who sees every little mistake? Then perhaps that attention to detail can be turned to seeing the presence of God in every little thing, or offered to assist people who find detail oriented work overwhelming, helping the needy deal with the mountain of forms they often have to fill out to get assistance.
Do you find yourself on the phone constantly gossiping? Maybe that talkativeness needs to be directed to the good, and you should be in charge of the phone tree.
Today's first reading offers us an opportunity to look at our own personality and ask which of our basic personality traits do we still need God's grace to redirect.
Will change happen overnight? Probably not. Will we find ourselves slipping back into old patterns? Probably, from time to time. But with time and grace, conversion will happen.