- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

January 25, 2019

Fr. Jerome Machar OCSO

2nd Friday in Ordinary Time
Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul
Acts 22:3-16; Mark 16:15-18

Today, we celebrate the conversion of a man who was convinced that his efforts to suppress the wrong-headed believers was God’s will. His fervor so blinded him that he could not imagine the possibility that he might be wrong. It took an encounter with the Lord of Light to make him realize that his devotion was self-deceiving and deceitful. Blinded by the Light, Saul was able to see clearly the sickness of his heart. Saul’s encounter with the Light on the road to Damascus was a token of God’s favor. In that flash of light God brought Saul from opposing to promoting the Truth of the Gospel. Knocked down from carrying out his own plans, Saul was raised up to carry out God’s.

Through the victory of Christ over the powers of darkness those that were afar off are made near. Grace has thus abounded to millions of perishing sinners. Let us bless God for the unsearchable riches of gospel grace. It is important, however, to emphasize that this witness, then just as now, is born from the encounter with the Risen One, is fed by a constant relationship with him and animated by a profound love for him. St. Basil the Great wrote: “A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

St Paul’s Damascus Road experience enabled him to expect the fulfilment of this mystery of transformation that will concern all who believed in Christ, as well as all humanity and the whole of creation. As the Father loved the Son, so He loved all those who have been made sons and daughters in the Son. Our conversion has to do with our relationship with Jesus the Christ. Christ alone can be the principle, the cause and the driving force behind our unity. Our divisions wound Christ’s body, they impair the witness which we are called to give to him before the world.

We are called to make the walk of faith fraternally, on the road towards unity, bringing about unity even as we walk. The unity of faith comes from the Holy Spirit. The Resurrection of Christ assures us that God’s goodness conquers evil and love conquers death. The presence of the Risen Christ calls all of us Christians to act together in the cause of good. Christian unity is a fruit of God’s grace, and we must dispose ourselves to accept it with generous and open hearts.

Each one of us is called to make his or her contribution towards the completion of those steps that lead to full communion among believers. The unity to which Christ calls the Church is not only brought about at the level of organizational structures but at a far deeper level, acquires the form of unity expressed “in the confession of one faith, in the common celebration of divine worship, and in the fraternal harmony of the family of God” This “holy objective — the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ — transcends human powers and gifts.

“The Church, surrounded by divine light, spreads her rays over the entire earth. This light, however, is one and unique, and shines everywhere without causing any separation in the unity of the body. She extends her branches over the whole world. By her fruitfulness she sends ever farther afield her rivulets. Nevertheless, the head is always one, the origin one, for she is the one mother, abundantly fruitful. We are born of her, are nourished by her milk, we live of her spirit” (St. Cyprian, De Catholicae Eccles. Unitate, 5).