25 January 2006

Are you ready to RUMBLE!!??

3rd Week OT (Wed): Act 9.1-22; Mark 16.15-18
The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory, Irving, TX

Are you ready to be converted? To be converted is to be transformed, changed from one thing to another, from one condition to another. It is to be turned around, whirled about the other way, and made into that which one was not before. It is to be flipped over, tossed up, spun about, and left to crash, hard, on the ground. To be converted is to be made over, done-over, modified, and radically revised. It is newly given, freshly gifted life. New life given for a new purpose, a different way of traveling on the Way to Jesus.

To be converted is to be resurrected.

The murderous Saul is on his way to persecute the infant church in Damascus. He’s ready for war with letters from the synagogue authorizing him to root out these Jewish heretics who follow the Way, to chain them up, and drag them back to Jerusalem for trial. Absolutely sure of the righteousness of his cause and serenely confident in his ability to prosecute these looney fringe elements, Saul sets out with his fellow thugs. What he’s not ready for is the holy smackdown that the Lord brings his way. I mean, who is ever really prepared to be surrounded by the brilliance of God’s glory, knocked to the ground by the divine voice, and questioned—questioned!—by Christ himself?

You know the rest of the story. Saul is converted. Dramatically converted. The Living God reaches out to Saul, makes it clear to him that he is not merely chasing after heretics, but that he is chasing after Jesus Himself, persecuting the Lord of the Law and the Prophets, his God since the Word was breathed across the void. This encounter, this meeting of creature and Creator is a resurrection. From death to life. From stony Law to fleshy beatitude. From zeal for an Older Righteousness to zeal for a Newer Holiness. Saul is taken up, spun around, smacked about, dropped on his head, blinded, and sent like a naughty child to the church for instruction. He is brought down and risen up; he is, in the language of the business world, “re-purposed.”

Are you ready to be converted? Are you ready for your resurrection? You might object and say that you are already converted, already turned around and headed to God. No doubt. But a life of holiness, the universal call to live a holy life, is always about the day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute work of turning to face the Lord, of being ready to meet Him face-to-face, and to hear a new plan for your life. Are you ready for that? Are you ready to be sent out? Ready to find yourself walking into a task blinded, guided by someone you don’t know? Ready to be a child for a while, taught and disciplined by a stranger? Are you ready for the Holy Spirit to grab you, smack you around a bit, and put you on a path diametrically opposed to anything you’ve ever thought of before? In other words, are you ready to be resurrected? Are you ready to be changed beyond recognition and given an entirely new purpose?

If you are, then here’s your job description: go out into the world, the whole world, and declare with clarity and confidence that Jesus is the Anointed One of the Father. Anyone who believes this Good News and is washed with water in his name will be saved from final death. Anyone who does not believe will be condemned in their unbelief. Witness to what you know about the Lord, tell your story of resurrection, make the fantastic plausible, make the implausible real, and be the one for us who stands up, speaks out, boldly declares the love, the mercy, the forgiveness of the Lord. And never fail in announcing the freely given, abundantly stocked, no-waiting-in-line offer to start over, to repent and believe the Gospel.


  1. Anonymous5:12 PM

    Fr Philip,
    A great image leapt to mind at your first paragraph: Extreme Home Makeover.
    Are you familiar with the show?

    In order for a newer, better home to be constructed, the old one must be torn down. It is rather painful to watch this part of the process, you can imagine how attached the family is to the place even if it is falling apart and inadequate for their needs. But then it's a great joy to see the final product.

    Seems a bit apt since the family in question is unable to do the work themselves, but must simply vacate the premises so that the team can get to work.

    Isn't this what true conversion calls us to do? Empty ourselves so Christ can come in tear down and rebuild?

    Thanks for another great homily.

  2. I definitely need to work on suggestions #3 and 4, and I'll do my best. Thanks.

    I'll chime in and say that I'm another one who strongly disagrees with suggestion #1. I am a HEAVILY visual learner. If somebody is reading aloud from any type of pre-written text, I simply cannot process it, unless the person is a phenomenally skilled reader.