Conversion. For some people, conversion means a complete change in the orientation of one’s mind and heart to God – a re-birth of sorts. For others, many conversions take place over the course of a lifetime through eye-opening faith experiences.
Today, January 25, Catholics recognize the conversion of Paul the Apostle from being a persecutor of Christians to a follower of the Way.
As you may recall from this story (Acts 9:1-22) Paul the Apostle was once known as Saul of Tarsus. Saul used to “breathe threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” and “bring them bound to Jerusalem.” Saul fell to the ground when he heard a voice call out to him: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Saul didn’t know who or what the voice was, and the voice replied “I am Jesus who you are persecuting.” Saul got up and was blind. God told a disciple Ananias to go meet Saul because is “chosen to bring my name before Gentiles, kings, and the people of Israel.” When Ananias met Saul, Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit, regained his sight, and was baptized. (He also underwent a name change – to Paul – because followers of the Way knew his rep and they were scared of him.) Paul went on to become one of the greatest evangelists we know, and even underwent persecution himself on behalf of the early Christians.
Just as the early Christians needed an advocate for the conversion of their persecutors, God’s groaning Creation needs advocates today. Never underestimate the power of your witness to those around you. Like Ananias, your example or your words might lead someone else to open their eyes and experience the Holy Spirit in a powerful way.
The Student Christian Movement of India has been working with an indigenous group near Kashipur to creatively use media to open peoples’ eyes to indigenous peoples’ perspectives on how God’s Creation and God’s people are being impacted by mining. Check out this video and see if it opens your eyes and spurs any conversion in you. (I know it did for me.)
Click here to protect God’s lands here in the United States.