The daily Gospel reading for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle is Mark 16:15-18.

Following His miraculous Resurrection from the dead and spending 40 days with His disciples in preparation for His departure, Christ gathers the 11 remaining Apostles (Judas Iscariot has committed suicide) for the final time. Speaking from His position of divine authority, Christ gives His final commandments to the Apostles, the 11 men He has hand-picked and formed to establish His Holy Catholic Church.

Christ instructs them to preach the Gospel to the “whole creation”, confirming the Apostles (and all men who follow Him) are to evangelize every single soul in the entire world. Establishing the authority and mission of His Apostolic Catholic Church, Christ commands the Apostles to preach the Gospel and to give the Sacraments (Baptism, a shorthand for all the Sacraments); those who believe will be saved (eternal life in Heaven) and those who do not believe will be condemned (to Hell). Christ promises great and wondrous signs by those who believe (cast out demons, speak in new tongues, etc), many of which are documented in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 16:16-18, 2:4-11, 3:6-8).

The Apostle Paul is at first a merciless persecutor of the early Church, zealously rounding up both men and women and approving of the brutal stoning of the first martyr of the Church, St. Stephen. Christ’s direct conversion of the Pharisee Saul (who becomes Paul) on the road to Damascus is Divine Genius, for Paul: is a key persecutor who becomes a proponent of the Church; is a well trained theologian of the Old Covenant who reveals the connection to the New Covenant (wrote a large part of the New Testament and guided his disciple Luke to write a Gospel and Acts); is a Jew who was raised in Greek culture and a Roman citizen who is able to influence Jews, Greeks and Romans; has a moral conscience and love of God that leads him, once converted, to tirelessly evangelize the Gentiles in three major missionary journeys. Tradition holds that St. Paul was an apostle to the Greeks and that he was beheaded by Emperor Nero outside of Rome. St. Paul’s relics continue to be venerated at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls near Rome.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God and Son of Man, Christ is resurrected, glorified and has complete dominion over all Creation. Divine King, Christ selects, converts and sends His Apostles (literally, “those sent”) to evangelize the world. Divine Prophet, Christ fulfills His own prophecies of His Death, Resurrection, Ascension and the building of the Church.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Marvel at the Divine Genius of Christ in His selection of His enemy Paul to become the Apostle to the Gentiles.

2) Paul’s zeal (“ardor or noble passion”), once properly directed in service of Christ, gives Paul perseverance in the face of widespread disbelief and many violent attacks upon him. Reflect upon Zeal (CCC 579, 2720, 2004, 584, 828) and pray for Christ to guide you to zealously serve Him like St. Paul.  St. Paul, pray for us!

3) In the day-to-day battle of life, men can forget about the powerful champions Christ has given men in the Saints. Refresh your understanding of the Communion of the Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683) and pray for Christ to help you to be strengthened by your Patron Saint(s) (CCC 2165, 2156) and those Saints who can help you prevail over your life challenges.