January 25: Conversion of Mar Paulose

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     Today the Church commemorates the conversion of Mar Paulose. This was a mile-stone in the history of Christianity. Mar Paulose was called Saul before his conversion. He was born in Tarsus, a city in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) from Jewish parents. His ancestry is traced to the tribe of Benjamin. He could speak both Greek and Aramaic. Being a zealous Jew, after his education under the Jewish rabbi Gamaliel, he decided to work for the uprooting of Christianity. He was a firebrand. As a young man he was at the site of the stoning of Saint Stephen keeping the garments of those who were stoning Stephen to death (Acts 7:58). Christians were in dread of him because he was authorized by the Jewish authorities to arrest the Christians and to drag them to prison. Hearing that there was a community of Christians in Damascus he proceeded to that city. But the Divine Providence had another design for him. This firebrand had to become the torch bearer of Christian light and had to go to far-away places and suffer a lot for his new persuit. Therefore on his way to Damascus he was cast down to the earth and struck blind; he heard Christ telling him that he was persecuting Him by persecuting the Christians. Saul rose up as a new man and became a Christian and the Apostle commissioned by Christ Himself. This episode of the conversation of Saul is graphically described in the Act of the Apostles(9:1-22). Saul later on adopted the Roman name Paulus which literally means “the little one” realizing his smallness because of his previous history as persecutor of the church.


Today the prayers of the unity octave conclude, prayers for the unity of the church was initiated some time ago by a dissident group of christians and now the unity octave is observed by the Catholic Church too. Jesus Christ who converted the firebrand Saul into the torch bearer Paul can surely work wonders in the pursuit of the various Christian denominations to attain unity.


In addition to Act 9: 1-22 , the Church prescribes the following reading too for today: Exodus 3: 1-14 tells us the story of the call of Mosses to liberate the people of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. In 1 Corinthians 15: 1-10 St. Paul alludes to his conversion by saying that Jesus appeared to him as to one who was untimely born. The Gospel passage is Mathew 20:1-16 which is the parrable of the workers in the vineyard showing the generosity of God to people irrespective of their merits.

Credits: Father Thomas Kalayil, CMI <thomas 'dot' kalayil 'at' cmi 'dot' in>


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