On the path to the city called Damascus, Saint Paul’s life changed; it changed forever, and it changed dramatically. Have you ever had an event, encounter or experience that you knew would change the course of your life forever? Contemplate the answer to this question carefully.
Most people would respond to this question in the negative. “My life has never seen something as momentous as Damascus occur.” Isn’t it interesting that when someone asks us if we ever had a life-changing experience, that we instinctively decide, no? Through impulse we respond that nothing as powerful as this could ever happen to us. We are not worthy of such a divine call and mission. We are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, we tell ourselves.
It is interesting though; I asked if something ever happened to you that changed the course of your life. I did not ask if you have had a Damascus experience where you were made blind by light and the Risen Jesus appeared to you from the sky. We all have, including myself, this understanding that in order for a radical change of life to occur something tremendously dramatic has to happen. What if we are selling ourselves short by waiting for the dramatic? What if we are blinded by what we do not want to see, because that will mean we must change our ways?
We are told that Paul is on his way to Damascus in order to bring followers of “The Way” in chains to the high priest. Jesus’ disciples claimed he was the center of the renewed Jewish faith, even of the Sacred Scriptures. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI says, “As a zealous Jew, Paul held this message unacceptable, even scandalous, and he therefore felt the duty to persecute the followers of Christ even outside Jerusalem.” Paul’s zeal defined his life, however, the avenue in which he lived it out was flipped on its head on a dusty road nearly two thousand years ago.
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