“It is perfectly true that we die with Him in baptism and rise from the dead: but this is only the beginning of a series of deaths and resurrections. We are not ‘converted’ only once in our life but many times, and this endless series of large and small ‘conversions,’ inner revolutions, leads finally to our transformation in Christ.”
Excerpted from “Life and Holiness” by Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO
Monday, January 25 ~ Third Week in Ordinary Time
Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle
Holy Gospel: Mark 16:15-18 Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Meditation: Jesus’ departure and ascension into heaven was both an end and a beginning for his disciples. While it was the end of Jesus’ physical presence with his beloved disciples, it marked the beginning of Jesus’ presence with them in a new way. Jesus promised that he would be with them always to the end of time. Now as the glorified and risen Lord and Savior, ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, Jesus promised to send them the Holy Spirit who would anoint them with power on the Feast of Pentecost, just as Jesus was anointed for his ministry at the River Jordan. When the Lord Jesus departed physically from the apostles, they were not left in sorrow or grief. Instead, they were filled with joy and with great anticipation for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ last words to his apostles point to his saving mission and to their mission to be witnesses of his saving death and his glorious resurrection and to proclaim the good news of salvation to all the world. Their task is to proclaim the good news of salvation, not only to the people of Israel, but to all the nations. God’s love and gift of salvation is not just for a few, or for a nation, but it is for the whole world – for all who will accept it. The gospel is the power of God, the power to forgive sins, to heal, to deliver from evil and oppression, and to restore life. Do you believe in the power of the gospel?
Prayer: O God, who taught the whole world through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul, draw us, we pray, nearer to you through the example of him whose conversion we celebrate today, and so make us witnesses to your truth in the world. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
A Prayer for Conversion: O Father, in the name of Your Son Jesus, and in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit, I ask that You fill me with the knowledge of Your will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Enlighten me, dear Lord! Teach me to live in a manner that is worthy of You, so as to be fully pleasing to You, full of good works bearing good fruits and ever growing in knowledge of You. Strengthen me, a lost lamb, dear Lord, with every power of Your Holy Spirit, in accordance with Your might, for all endurance and patience, with joy, giving thanks to You O Father! Make me fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in the Light. Deliver me from the power of darkness and transfer me into the kingdom of Your Beloved Son, Jesus, in whom is redemption and the forgiveness of sins. Amen.
Contemplation: This is the great commission which the risen Christ gives to the whole church. All believers have been given a share in this task – to be heralds of the good news and ambassadors for Jesus Christ, the only savior of the world. We have not been left alone in this task, for the risen Lord works in and through us by the power of his Holy Spirit. Today we witness a new Pentecost as the Lord pours out his Holy Spirit upon his people to renew and strengthen the body of Christ and to equip it for effective ministry and mission world-wide. Do you witness to others the joy of the gospel and the hope of the resurrection?