Today’s Gospel: Mark 16:15-18 – Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul
Imagine how the Early Christians must have felt when St. Paul first began preaching about Christ. He had previously been one of the most prominent critics and persecutors of Christianity. He had been complicit in the murder of their brothers. He had plotted with the government for their demise. And yet, here he was: on fire and winning countless souls for God.
Fairly regularly, our parish includes prayers for the conversion of the leaders of our country during the Prayers of the Faithful. While I agree the world desperately needs to turn back to God, I often catch myself doing a mental eye roll, as if I almost think of the prayers as being wasted. That is one of the great lessons this feast gives us though: no one is outside the grace and mercy of God.
We all can see some real villains in our world. There are many people in powerful places who are actively pursuing the destruction of our Church and Christianity as a whole, just as St. Paul did in his day; and it can be very easy to despair of their conversion. But through St. Paul, God shows us that the call in today’s Gospel, to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” is not only for us, the baptized, but for everyone.
After his conversion, St. Paul became arguably the greatest missionary we have yet to see. God is still working in our world, and He never ceases to call souls to Himself. How blessed would our world be if God turned the hearts of His persecutors once again towards Him!
Are there people that I have given up on praying for because I think they are too far gone?
Give me a heart to love those who do injury to the world. May your persecutors turn to You, repent, and “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”
Copyright 2018 Hilary Thompson
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