Clergy Notes — Epiphany 4, January 28, 2024

Last Thursday’s Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul prompted me to ponder for a while on Conversion’s integral place in our Christian living. On the surface it appears that Paul’s dramatic – traumatic – experience on the Damascus Road was for him a complete turn-around, a complete break with his past as a strict Pharisaic Jew. Yes, his encounter with the Risen Christ was life-changing, for him and for the infant church, but it was a stage on a continuing journey of change, conversion.

Through this encounter Paul came to realise that the fulfilment of the Jewish covenant was to be found by walking in the way of Christ, for Christ himself is the Yes, the fulfilment of God’s promises. By grace the force and fervour with which Paul had promoted the Law as a Pharisee was transferred to his proclamation of the Gospel. God guided Paul as he was, with his gifts and talents, with his weaknesses too, to a new ministry as an apostle. In his Letters and in the Acts of the Apostles we see that Paul’s understanding of faith and his relationship with God develops and grows over time and through experience: there are continuing conversions. In a sense, conversion is never complete.

Few of us are privileged to have such a dramatic conversion event, though there are well-attested examples, among them John Newton and the Wesley brothers. Nonetheless, I suggest that each and all of us in our journey with Christ are invited to walk in the way of conversion, opening ourselves to God’s grace, to turn continually to Christ, that his image may be formed more perfectly within us, that we may become more Christ-like. As with St. Paul, God takes us as we are, gifts, talents and weaknesses, and nudges, cajoles, moulds us into the wonderful human beings he is calling us to be. Conversion should be our way of life!

With every blessing,
Fr Kevin

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