Rev. Mary McCue
Last week, many of us heard the hymn by John Newton a slave trader-turned-abolitionist-- Amazing Grace. Amazing grace certainly applies to the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. We celebrate that Conversion today.
Paul was born Saul, a son of well-off parents, and raised in Cilicia (southern Turkey). Like his parents, he was a Pharisee. And he was a zealous one. He delighted in persecuting Jews, and others who followed Jesus. And he aided and abetted others doing the same. Acts tells us that he held the cloaks of those who stoned Stephen, the first deacon, to death (Acts 7: 58) And he was looking for opportunities to continue the persecution. He applied to authorities to travel further afield to do so. Granted that permission, he set out on the road to Damascus -- and was struck down by a force he’d never felt before. Left blind, he was led to Damascus – and was released from his blindness by Ananias, who was a disciple. Ananias released him at the direction, and in the name of, Jesus Christ.
Paul changed his way of life completely. He became an apostle – some say the Apostle -- of Jesus Christ. For the rest of his life, he traveled far and wide to bring the message of Jesus to Jews – and to Gentiles.
Amazing grace – how sweet the sound.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington