Most Christians when we think of the 25th, we think of December 25, Christmas, the birth of the baby Jesus. And yet, for most of us, any of s of. Non-Jewish heritage January 25 may in some way be more important. Today, January 25th, the Church celebrates the conversion of St. Paul.
It is true that Jesus told his disciples to "Go out and teach all nations..." But it was not until St. Paul entered the picture that this command became fully understood and realized. Before St. Paul, what we call Christianity was mere a sect of the Jewish religion. It is for that reason that St. Paul is called the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Saul as he was called was, in our modern language, the ultimate political insider. He was ultra-orthodox in his practice, and fierce in his persecution of Christians, whom he saw as a danger to the purity of the faith. That is why it is most fascinating that of all people, God chose him to break open the walls and let in the foreigners, the pagans, the unclean.
We must be careful, however, that we don't rob his message of its transforming power. Yes, it would be true to say that it is a "come as you are" invitation. But it is not an invitation that says come as you are, and stay who you are. Once we arrive we are all expected to change. Just as Saul became Paul we must allow ourselves to be transformed by God's grace. We are all required to open our minds and hearts to experience true conversion. And this is not a one time thing. For true Christians, it is a daily thing.
Today as we celebrate the Conversion of St. Paul, let us pray that Jesus will continue the work of conversion in each of us.