Thursday, January 25, 2024

The Conversion of St Paul 2024

In those days: Saul, as yet breathing out threats and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked of him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues: that if he found any men and women of this way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And as he went on his journey, it came to pass that he drew nigh to Damascus; and suddenly a light from heaven shined round about him. And falling on the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?” And he said, “Who art thou, Lord?” And he, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.”

The Conversion of St Paul, ca. 1690, by Luca Giordano. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.) 
And he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” And the Lord said to him, “Arise, and go into the city, and there it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Now the men who accompanied him stood amazed, hearing indeed a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. But they leading him by the hands, brought him to Damascus. And he was there three days, without sight, and he did neither eat nor drink.
Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias. And the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias”. And he said, “Behold I am here, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Arise, and go into the street that is called Strait, and seek in the house of Judas, one named Saul of Tarsus. For behold he prayeth.” (And he saw a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hands upon him, that he might receive his sight.) But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem. And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that invoke thy name.” And the Lord said to him, “Go thy way; for this man is to me a vessel of election, to carry my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
Ananias Restoring the Sight of St Paul, ca. 1630, by Pietro da Cortona. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Anthony M., CC BY 2.0)
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house. And laying his hands upon him, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus hath sent me, he that appeared to thee in the way as thou camest; that thou mayest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” And immediately there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight; and rising up, he was baptized. And when he had taken meat, he was strengthened. And he was with the disciples that were at Damascus, for some days. And immediately he preached Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. And all that heard him, were astonished, and said, “Is not this he who persecuted in Jerusalem those that called upon this name: and came hither for that intent, that he might carry them bound to the chief priests?” But Saul increased much more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt at Damascus, affirming that this is the Christ. (Acts 9, 1-22, the Epistle of the Conversion of St Paul.)

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