Permanently etched in my memory is a painting done by the famous Italian artist Caravaggio of the “Conversion of St. Paul.” It is one of Caravaggio’s greatest works, telling the story that changed the face of Christianity and the Catholic Church. I have read the account of Paul’s conversion many times in the New Testament and celebrated the feast day of that event on Jan. 25 for many years. The story can be read in Acts 9: 1-31.
St. Paul’s original name was Saul, and he was feared by the early Christians. Before his conversion, Saul’s mission was to eliminate Christianity by persecuting the early Church. How does one change from that to become one of the most important ministers of the gospel of all time? It is conversion at its very best. The man who was Saul became Paul at the Lord’s own choosing. And it is important for us at St. John’s to know this story, and to realize that the potential Christ saw in St. Paul is not unlike the potential that lies within each of us to be Christ’s disciple.