Homily for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul

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January 25, 2021 | (Acts 22:3-16; Psalm 117; Mark 16:15-18) | Molly Brockwell, OSB

“The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice; for you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.” Acts 22:14-16

We know the story of Paul’s conversion, his 180 degree turn from fiercely persecuting the Christians to becoming a fierce preacher of the Gospel. As if following the theme from yesterday’s readings, it’s another story of a call from God. 

What strikes me today, however, is not Paul but Ananias, who helps Paul make sense of what happened to him and what Jesus was calling him to do. Paul has seen the light, but it has left him unable to see. Ananias steps in to restore his sight and help him focus on its meaning. “The God of our ancestors has chosen you,” Ananias tells Paul, “…to see the Righteous One and hear his own voice; for you will be his witness to all the world.” 

Another role of Ananias in Paul’s account is to administer a swift kick to Paul’s backside: “Why do you delay?” What are you waiting for? How invaluable are those voices in our lives, when we are frozen by fear or paralyzed by being so set in our ways.

How often in our lives have we been helped by an Ananias, a friend or mentor who has encouraged us or helped us find focus and perspective in an overwhelming and confusing situation? We are so blessed in community to have our sisters, whether lifelong companions or inter-generational friends, who help us to see. We have the opportunity to accompany each other through the many calls of our lives, dramatic and quiet alike, and help each other see and hear the presence of Christ in the midst of it. We have the gift of those who spur us to action, when left to our own devices, we would stay exactly as we are.

So today, let us not delay in listening to the Ananias in our life, or being Ananias for another.