Today’s feast: Conversion of St. Paul
Acts of the Apostles 22:3-16 – (or) Acts 9:1-22 – Psalm 117 – Mark 16:13-18
“I Chose you from the world, to go out and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.” (Today’s “Alleluia Vs.”)
Before we get into today’s reflection take a moment to think about all the references to “light” in the scriptures. Right from the very beginning in Genesis it is “light” that is the first gesture of creation. From there – and all throughout the Gospels it is “light” that figures in so many of Jesus’ pronouncements. “I am the Light of the World!”
In the olden days, back in the time when I first entered the Dominicans as a lay brother the technical name given us was, “conversi” since in former times many who sought entrance into the Dominicans as brothers and not as priests were thought to have been “converted” from a previous life of less-than-noble ways. In fact, the feast day for these brothers was today’s feast, the Conversion of St. Paul. Even though that way of thinking has some demeaning connotations it was a reminder to all of us of our personal need for “conversion.”
In the early 60’s, when Martin de Porres was declared a saint those now called co-operator brothers celebrated their feast day on November 3rd.
I think that there’s a lesson to be seen in all of these facets of the feast that we celebrate today. In the first place all of us need to experience some kind of “conversion.” If we say that “we have not sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God we are making God a liar. So “conversion” is a basic starting point for all of us.
In the life of St. Martin de Porres we can see almost the opposite happening: he came to the Order as an out-cast; a person of ‘mixed race’ and was assigned to the lowest of the low duties. Yet it was in this realm that his light really shinned. He is renowned for his miraculous signs in all his dealings with the poor to whom he had a special calling. In many ways his very life called others to their own conversion as they saw him carrying out the “mission of Christ” to have special concern for the poor and outcasts of society in healing them and bringing them to a full life in Christ.
When I had a trip to Peru some time back, I saw first-hand how the legacy of Martin de Porres is still very much alive in the people of Lima, Peru. A good lesson and reminder to all of us seeking ways to follow Jesus more perfectly. When you have consideration for the lowest of the low there isn’t always need to be knocked to the ground! Something to think about. Amen!