Day 330: Saul's Conversion

Acts 9:1-25 The dramatic conversion of Saul illustrates the power of an encounter with the risen Lord.

I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting: These words reveal something of the Mystical Body of Christ, a concept that Saul, later renamed Paul, would develop in his writings. The Christian community is, in a very real sense, the Body of Christ. A good deed done to a member of the Mystical Body is done to Christ himself, and the opposite holds true as well. (CCC 432, 449, 598, 639, 790-791)

Ch 9:2-3 Damascus lies outside Palestine, in Syria. The Sanhedrin wielded power over Jews even outside of Judea.

The Way: A name used to describe the early Christian community. (CCC 442)

Ch 9:12-13 Your saints: In the New Testament, faithful Christians still living on earth were often called “saints,” which essentially means “holy ones.” That use is consistent with the doctrine of the Communion of Saints, which recognizes the Church Militant (the living members of the Church on earth), the Church Suffering (the Holy Souls in Purgatory), and the Church Triumphant (the saints in Heaven), all of whom, from a certain perspective, can rightly be called saints. The Church is holy because Christ, who is All-holy, has sanctified her by joining her to himself as his body (cf. LG 39). The word “saint,” as used in the nascent Church, is an indication of their awareness of the universal call to holiness. (CCC 823-826, 1226, 1475)

Ch 9:14-15 A chosen instrument: God called Saul specifically to the task of evangelizing the Gentile nations. (CCC 442)

Ch 9:20 He is the Son of God: The divinity and Sonship of Christ is the foundational teaching of Christianity. (CCC 442-443)

Ch 9:23-31 Many days: Paul remained in Arabia for three years before traveling to Jerusalem to meet with the disciples there (cf. Gal 1:17-18). Like the people of Damascus, the disciples in Jerusalem were uncertain of Saul and his claim of conversion. He gained enough credibility through his teaching and fellowship that the disciples decided to protect him when the Hellenists sought to kill him.

Comfort of the Holy Spirit: It is the Spirit that builds, animates, and sanctifies the Church. (CCC 747)

Ch 9:29 Like Stephen before him, Saul drew antagonism from the Hellenist Jews.

Ch 9:32-43 These descriptions of healings performed by Peter sound very much like the accounts of healings by Christ, and for good reason: Christ conferred upon the disciples the same power to heal if requested in his name.

Jesus Christ heals you: Peter explicitly gave Christ the credit for the healing, as it is indeed he who heals through the Church and her ministers. (CCC 1507)

Romans 15:1-13 The obligation to be of service to others and to bear each other’s burdens comes from the example of Christ’s spirit of service. Our Christian faith should lead us to love one another with the love of Christ and as children of God. (CCC 162, 2627, 2657)

Ch 15:1 We who are strong: The “strong” Christians were the Gentile Christians as well as those Jewish Christians who saw that the old laws governing dietary restrictions and worship were to be replaced by the New Law of grace and love springing from the New Covenant in Christ. The strong, however, should be tolerant of those who lacked the fortitude to completely break away from the Old Law. There is a parallel in the social teachings of the Church, founded upon the Gospel and the Beatitudes, that calls upon those who are endowed with wealth and material possessions to share their resources with those who lack them, always looking out for the common good of society. (CCC 582, 1905-1912)

Ch 15:4 Scriptures: Sacred Scripture, which is comprised of the books of the Old and New Testaments, is a foundation for our liturgy and life as Christians. The various books of Scripture, identified by the Church as inspired by the Holy Spirit, pride the history of our salvation and guidance for sanctifying our lives rooted ultimately in the example of Christ. (CCC 121-122)

Ch 15:5-9 For Paul and for us, Christ is the perfect model for every aspect of life, including love, hospitality, spirit of service, patience, and mercy. (CCC 520)

Ch 15:14-33 Christians are called to offer their lives as sacrifices in union with Christ’s sacrifice to God. Paul, for this reason, urged the Gentiles to make themselves an acceptable offering to God. Paul then announced his plan to visit Rome and Spain and requested prayers for his apostolic mission. In Scripture the Greek leiturgia (“liturgy”) refers not only to worship but also to the preaching of the Gospel and to works of charity. In liturgical worship, the Church exercises the one priesthood of Christ through his ministers, which has priestly, prophetic (preaching), and kingly (service in charity) components. (CCC 1070-1072)

Ch 15:25-32 Paul took up a collection for the poor of the Church in Jerusalem during his third missionary journey. Giving alms to the poor is an obligation of Christian charity and justice.

Delivered from the unbelievers: Paul knew he faced danger in visiting Jerusalem. Indeed, on this very trip he would be arrested and imprisoned. (CCC 1070, 2629)

Ch 16:1-27 The list of greetings reflects the diversity and universality of the early Church. It includes names deriving from several different cultures and languages, all people with whom Paul had a relationship without ever having traveled to Rome. Christ instructed his followers to spread the Good News throughout the earth.

All the churches: Paul referred to what today we call “particular churches,” or dioceses. Each local community of believers is a particular church in itself but is united in faith with the universal Church founded by Christ. (CCCC 832-833)

Ch 16:17-20 The people who were creating “dissensions and difficulties” were false teachers, who showed more interest in gratifying the flesh through gluttonous behavior than sacrificing themselves for the Kingdom of God.

Crush Satan under your feet: The sanctity of the early Christians would ultimately defeat the forces of evil. Paul here refers to the Protoevangelium, wherein God first promised a Redeemer who would crush the serpent with his heel and liberate the world from sin and the bondage of Satan (cf. Gn 3:15). (CCC 410-411)

Ch 16:23 Other ancient authorities add verse 24: “The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

Ch 16:25-27 Revelation of the mystery: This refers to God’s plan of salvation, for which he had long prepared his people and which would culminate in the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. The Church professes this mystery of the Faith in the Creed and in her liturgy. (CCC 2558)

Ch 16:26 Obedience of faith: The Gospel must be preached to all nations in order for all people to be able to respond to Christ’s invitation of repentance and conversion (cf. Rom 1:5). (CCC 143, 1204, 2087)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Key Event 67a: Saul's Conversion (Acts 9)

On the road to Damascus, Saul, the fierce persecutor of the Church, sees a blinding light. It is the risen Jesus, who asks Saul, "Why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4). This encounter transforms Saul into one of the greatest missionaries of the church and plants the seeds of his later understanding of the Church as the Body of Christ.

  • In Acts of the Apostles today, GOSH, we hear not only about the “twin” Apostles

  • Saul and Peter

  • Saul’s Conversion

  • There is something REMARKABLE...

  • There is a huge miracle that is happening with Saul’s conversion

  • He is breathing murderous threats against the Christians, going to Damascus to arrest them to bring them back to Jerusalem

  • BUT…

  • As Jesus appears to Saul, what does he say?

  • “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

  • “Who are you, Lord?”

  • “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

  • But wait a second…

  • Saul isn’t persecuting Jesus

  • He had nothing to do with Jesus as far as we know

  • So who is he persecuting?

  • He is persecuting THE CHURCH!!

  • Once again, here is Jesus identifying HIMSELF with the Church that he instituted

  • He is identifying HIMSELF with the people who believe in him

  • Those who are CHRISTIANS, who are LITTLE CHRISTS

  • Jesus is saying, “That’s me. When you persecute the Church, you are persecuting me.”


  • Beyond that, here is Jesus appearing to Ananias

  • He reveals to him, “I want you to go and relieve this man Saul of his blindness.”

  • Now, here’s an interesting thing…

  • Why wouldn’t Jesus, who in this vision blinded Saul, why wouldn’t Jesus just appear to Saul again and heal him?

  • That makes sense right?

  • If Jesus appeared once, why not appear twice and kind of CONFIRM his appearance

  • Well, it’s because...what is the name of this last age?

  • This last age is the AGE OF THE CHURCH


  • Rather than Jesus himself showing up and blinding Saul then showing up again and healing Saul, here he is sending one of the Christians, a member of the BODY OF CHRIST to Saul to HEAL HIM

  • This is teaching not only Saul, but ALL OF US, this KEY THING

  • Jesus works THROUGH HIS CHURCH just as powerfully as he worked THROUGH THE INCARNATION

  • So Jesus, who could have healed Saul, sent Ananias to heal Saul

  • Obviously Jesus healed Saul THROUGH Ananias


  • Sometimes we can think it’s just JESUS AND ME


  • That has NEVER been the case where it’s been JUST JESUS AND ME

  • It’s ALWAYS Jesus in the context of COMMUNITY

  • The Father in the context of COMMUNITY

  • The Holy Spirit in the context of COMMUNITY

  • It’s all about God’s power working through his Church on earth

  • BUT…

  • Here’s another piece

  • Ananias put up a little bit of resistance

  • So what does Jesus say?

  • Acts 10:15-16, “‘Go, for he [Saul] is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”

  • We talked yesterday that the Church expanded because of persecution

  • There was suffering that was happening and the Church was able to grow

  • Now here is Saul who, for the rest of his life, is God’s chosen instrument

  • And he will suffer for the sake of Jesus’ name

  • Later on, St. Paul will say, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake. And in my body I am making up for what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, the Church.”

  • We recognize that we are called to unite OUR sufferings to the sufferings of Jesus Christ

  • Here is Jesus making it clear about Saul

  • He is CHOSEN and he is going to SUFFER A LOT for the sake of Jesus’ name

  • How are we any different?

  • If God was going to use us, why would we think that we would escape?

  • That we wouldn’t participate in his suffering?

  • Why would we think that we would be spared the sufferings that EVERY CHOSEN INSTRUMENT, EVERY BELOVED OF GOD EXPERIENCES GREAT SUFFERING?

  • Why would we be any different?

  • The truth is we are NOT

  • AND YET…

  • Those sufferings sometimes surprise us

  • They can PAIN us

  • They can GRIEVE us

  • They can cause us DISTRESS

  • BUT…

  • They should NEVER surprise us

  • Because we know that if we belong to the Lord, OF COURSE we are going to suffer for the Lord

  • It doesn’t make it easier

  • BUT…

  • It DOES give it purpose

  • And we know that we are not abandoned

  • We are going to talk about Peter and healing and raising up Dorcas from the dead


  • Once again, God’s POWER working through his people

  • We come to the conclusion of The Letter of St. Paul to the Romans

  • Romans Ch 16 is Personal Greetings

  • The context here is individuals

  • It’s not just groups of people

  • It’s not all the church in Rome

  • It is not all the church in Corinth


  • That Paul KNOWS

  • It is PEOPLE WITH NAMES that everyone knows


  • We know this is true

  • The Gospel is advanced PRIMARILY through friendships and family


  • The Church will continue to grow, and Jesus Christ will continue to be known primarily through friendships and family

  • Yes, to have the Word of God proclaimed in a podcast is PHENOMENAL!!



  • BUT…

  • We know DEEP CONVERSION will happen through FRIENDSHIPS

  • DEEP CONVERSION will happen through FAMILY

  • So we pray for each other

  • Because we have friends and family that we desire to know the love of God in Jesus Christ

  • So we need to pray for them





Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. We thank you so much. Thank you for getting us not just through St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, but thank you for getting us to it. Thank you for opening our hearts and opening our minds by this great Encyclical, this great Letter, this great Epistle of grace of your love for every one of us. Help us to say yes to your love today and every day in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”