The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul is a feast celebrated during the liturgical year on January 25, recounting the Conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who after a record of brutalizing and persecuting Christians, converted to Christianity and became the apostle Paul.
While on the road to Damascus (c. A.D. 36) to annihilate the Christian community there, Saul said he was blinded by a brilliant light and heard the voice of Christ saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?...And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid, but they heard not the voice...." Elsewhere Paul claims to have seen Christ, and it is on this basis that he grounds his claim to be recognized as an Apostle: "Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?". Saul of Tarsus would journey into Damascus, where he was cured and attended by Ananias, being baptized into Christianity. He later took the name Paul and became one of the chief founding voices of Early Christianity. Paul's epistles, for instance, form the bulk of the New Testament of the Bible, after the combined total of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles (both traditionally attributed to the Apostle Luke), whose two books amount to nearly a third of the New Testament.
The Christian theological implication of the Conversion of Paul is that it witnesses the absolution of sin that is offered by faith and grace through belief in Jesus Christ. The magnitude of Paul's transgressions, such as his attempts to completely eradicate Christianity, indicate that any sinner may be forgiven, no matter how terrible his sins, except for the Unforgivable sin.
Propers for The Conversion of Saint Paul - 25 January
O GOD, who, through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul, hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world; Grant, we beseech thee, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show forth our thankfulness unto thee for the same, by following the holy doctrine which he taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle - Acts ix. 1.
AND Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
The Gospel - St. Matthew xix. 27.
PETER answered and said unto Jesus, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
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