Friday, January 25, 2008

Another Little Christmas

Our Monthly Feast

of the


and the Conversion


St. Paul of Tarsus

As described in past posts, Redemptoristines keep the 25th of each month as the feast of "Little Christmas", a celebration of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. On the 25th of each month at Midday Prayer the Prioress selects a special reading from scripture and follows it with an uplifting and usually challenging thought. The Italians call these talks "ferverinos." Here is the word that Sr. Paula offered us today. We were blessed.

Reflection for Midday Office, January 25, 2008

The Conversion of St. Paul, the Incarnation of the Word of God. What do these two faith events, these two realities have to do with one another? A lot!

The mystery of the Incarnation bridges the realms of eternity and time. The triune God, dwelling in light inaccessible, leaps down into our midst in the Person of the Word. Surely God’s presence infused all creation from the very beginning. But now God can be seen and touched and handled. The Word was made flesh and dwells amongst us. God’s love beats in a human heart.

St. Paul’s conversion took place totally in the realm of our earthly time. He was a passionate young man, deeply involved in and committed to his Hebrew faith. In the encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus a radical transformation took place within Paul’s mind and heart—but a change wholly in this world of time and space. I wonder if we can ever comprehend what a struggle it was for Paul to come to faith in Jesus. It may well be that the three years he spent in the desert was what it required for his inner reorientation. I wonder if that may be why he saw himself as the apostle to the Gentiles? He knew too personally, too painfully, what it took for a good pious practicing Jew to come to the fullness of belief in WHO Jesus is, fully human, fully divine. Gerard Manley Hopkins, in one of his poems, speaks of the different ways of conversion comparing “once in a flash Paul” to that of Augustine: “God’s lingering out sweet skill”. I believe Paul kept running from and to God all of his life.

We are so blessed to have as part of our community charism this monthly celebration of the Incarnation. So that we can realize and experience it takes a lifetime of pondering for us to grow in our own faith and understanding of the Mystery, in our own whole-hearted conversion.

We are called to enter deeply into this mystery and to let it grab us totally, heart, mind and soul, and transform us as it did St. Paul. Why should we hold back anything?

In this spirit of total gift, of total surrender, let us renew our vows today.

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