The conversion of St. Paul
Saul, the young man who looked after the cloaks of the men who were stoning St Stephen, grew into a dedicated and efficient persecutor of Christians. Today’s feast celebrates the day that Christ appeared to him in a vision as he was on the way to Damascus, reproached him for his persecutions and converted him to the true faith.
Entrance Antiphon : 2 Tim 1: 12; 4: 8
I know the one in whom I have believed and I am sure that he, the just judge, the mighty, will keep safe what is my due until that day.
O God, who taught the whole world through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul, draw us, we pray, nearer to you through the example of him whose conversion we celebrate today, and so make us witnesses to your truth in the world. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
First reading : Acts 22:3-16
Paul said to the people, ‘I am a Jew and was born at Tarsus in Cilicia. I was brought up here in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was taught the exact observance of the Law of our ancestors. In fact, I was as full of duty towards God as you are today. I even persecuted this Way to the death, and sent women as well as men to prison in chains as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify, since they even sent me with letters to their brothers in Damascus. When I set off it was with the intention of bringing prisoners back from there to Jerusalem for punishment. ‘I was on that journey and nearly at Damascus when about midday a bright light from heaven suddenly shone round me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” I answered: Who are you, Lord? and he said to me, “I am Jesus the Nazarene, and you are persecuting me.” The people with me saw the light but did not hear his voice as he spoke to me. I said: What am I to do, Lord? The Lord answered, “Stand up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told what you have been appointed to do.” The light had been so dazzling that I was blind and my companions had to take me by the hand; and so I came to Damascus. ‘Someone called Ananias, a devout follower of the Law and highly thought of by all the Jews living there, came to see me; he stood beside me and said, “Brother Saul, receive your sight.” Instantly my sight came back and I was able to see him. Then he said, “The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Just One and hear his own voice speaking, because you are to be his witness before all mankind, testifying to what you have seen and heard. And now why delay? It is time you were baptised and had your sins washed away while invoking his name.”’
Psalm 116 (117):1-2
R/ Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.
1. O praise the Lord, all you nations, acclaim him all you peoples!
2. Strong is his love for us; he is faithful for ever.
Gospel Acclamation : cf. Jn 15:16
Alleluia, alleluia!I chose you from the world to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last, says the Lord. Alleluia!
Gospel : Mark 16:15-18
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation. He who believes and is baptised will be saved; he who does not believe will be condemned. These are the signs that will be associated with believers: in my name they will cast out devils; they will have the gift of tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and be unharmed should they drink deadly poison; they will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover.’
Prayer over the Offerings
As we celebrate the divine mysteries, O Lord, we pray, may the Spirit fill us with that light of faith with which he constantly enlightened the blessed Apostle Paul for the spreading of your glory. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon : Cf. Gal 2: 20
I live by faith in the Son of God, who has loved me and given himself up for me.
Prayer after Communion
May the Sacrament we have received, O Lord our God, stir up in us that fire of charity with which the blessed Apostle Paul burned ardently as he bore his concern for all the Churches. Through Christ our Lord.
The conversion of St. Paul is an event of great significance in the history of the Church, because through this act, God gave to the Church one of her greatest missionaries. Paul stands out in his faithfulness to the command which Jesus gave to the Church after his resurrection: “Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.” In obedience to this command, he spread the Gospel all over the Eastern Mediterranean and in Rome. Through his letters, he continues to evangelise today. In a very special way, he reminds us that the Church is missionary by her very essence. We have a duty to preach the Good News, to make Jesus known wherever we find ourselves. May he obtain for us the grace to preach the crucified Christ by our words and our actions.