Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


"The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice; for you will be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard. Now, why delay? Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away, calling upon his name." - Acts 22:14-16

These are the words of the righteous man, Ananias, to St. Paul after his conversion to the faith on the road to Damascus. St. Paul is on his way to gather up followers of "the Way" and bring them back in chains to be punished for their adherance to the teachings of Christ when he is suddenly enveloped by a bright light, and he hears the voice of Jesus. Interestingly, in one account the companions of St. Paul hear the voice but see no one (Acts 9), and in another, they see the light but do not hear the voice (Acts 22). I have kind of contemplated why this discrepancy exists, and I have come up with a couple of ideas.

The first is that the importance of the event had little to do with the supporting players and their experience, rather it was about St. Paul's experience, for in each account, St. Paul's experience is exactly the same. The other thing I considered is that the fullness of the experience of the risen Christ, that of seeing the light and hearing the voice, was reserved for St. Paul since he was to lead the Church, and his companions were given incomplete signs; theologically, you can almost envision Moses in the tent of meeting conversing with God while the Israelites outside saw the theophany and knew God was present but didn't experience God in the same personal manner that Moses did.

The total blindness of Saul experienced on the road to Damascus and the restoration of his sight by the words of Ananias reveal to us an image of Saul's religious blindness as a Pharisee which is cured when St. Paul hears the Word from the mouth of Ananias. Sure, St. Paul's conversion experience was quite dramatic, but our own coversion experiences along our journey of faith, our own roads to Damascus, can be symbolized with images of blindness and restoring of sight. How often is the truth right before our very eyes, and we are completely blind to it, only to have our eyes opened through the power of the Holy Spirit working through another person. In our own way, each of us is a "St. Paul" who finds our way through an "Ananias."

If nothing else, St. Paul's conversion is a testamony to the power of God's grace. If a murderous hit man whose goal in life was to persecute Christ and his Church can end up spreading the Gospel and dying for the faith as one of its greatest apostles, I dare say it is quite true that anything is possible with God.

Holy Father Paul, I love you. Pray for us all that we may experience true conversion.


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