Sunday, June 29, 2008

Conversion and Deep Transformation

Although we may not have had such a dramatic conversion as St. Paul, we, like Matt Talbot, have our own stories of "what we were like, what happened, and what we are like now." By God's grace, we can continue to choose to do God's will each moment of each day.

Sunday, June 29, 2008
The Word Among Us

2 Timothy 4:6-8,17-18


Today in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI will inaugurate a special year honoring the life and works of St. Paul. It is a year dedicated to celebrating a man who went from hating Jesus to loving him and giving his life so that everyone would come to know Jesus’ love.

The story of Paul’s conversion can fill us with great hope. He was guilty of a very serious wrong, hounding the followers of Jesus to their deaths. Yet Jesus showed him mercy and turned him into one of the greatest evangelists of all time. If he could do that for the “Terror of Tarsus,” imagine what he can do for us!

With St. Paul, however, we remember not only the dramatic conversion at the beginning of his walk with Jesus but also the ongoing work of conversion in his life. We might imagine Paul as a man who never lost his temper, was always kind and gentle, and never made a mistake. But the New Testament gives us a rather different picture. Paul publicly humiliated Peter in Antioch (Galatians 2:11-14). He got into a fight with Barnabas over John Mark that led to a division between these once-close brothers (Acts 15:36-40). He even called the Galatians—people he was called to pastor with the love of Christ—“stupid” (Galatians 3:1).

Like all of us, Paul had some character faults that took years for God to iron out. He was not always a model of perfection. He was a real human being who developed from self-love to love for Jesus. It may have taken a lifetime, but God remained faithful. And Paul kept fighting, pressing on to become more like Jesus. No matter where we are in our walk with the Lord, even if we fail miserably over and over again, God will work in us if we keep turning back to him. We can all be transformed just as powerfully as Paul was.

“Jesus, how great is your mercy to sinners! I am grateful that you bring about conversion and deep transformation by your Holy Spirit. Make me a saint, even as I see how great a sinner I am.”

Acts 12:1-11; Psalm 34:2-9; Matthew 16:13-19


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