24 January 2008

Conversion of St. Paul

Tonight we anticipated the Festival of St. Paul's conversion with the Divine Service. I stole the main thought of the sermon from St. Augustine - a beautiful thought. He points out that by his conversion, our Lord transformed Saul from wolf to lamb. And he reminds us that Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin, about whom the Patriarch Jacob had prophesied:

Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
In the morning devouring the prey;
in the evening dividing the spoil. (Gen 49)

Thus Saul, in "the morning" of his life was a wolf - devouring the prey. One thinks of his role in St. Stephen's martyrdom and remembers that he was on his way to Damascus, breathing threats and murder against the Lord's disciples. But when Christ our Lord gets hold of him "in the evening" of his life - look what happens! He goes from being devouring wolf to gentle lamb. Instead of bloodying up others with their blood, he begins bloodying them up with Christ's! He spreads the spoils that our Savior obtained by His suffering, death and resurrection, preaching the Gospel and celebrating the Sacrament.

Thus Saul, the one-time wolf, would become Paul the Apostle, exhorting us to "bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse...do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good."

Even so he was once overcome by the goodness of His Lord and thus utterly transformed. May it also be for us! Thanks, St. Augustine. That was juicy.


Anonymous said...

Paul certainly preached the Gospel; but how do you know that he also celebrated the sacrament? He instructed the Corinthians concerning their abuses at the Lord's table, but was only able to remember a few people he had baptized (1 Cor. 1:14-16). He then goes to say "Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (17). It seems from Acts that Paul appointed local elders/pastors to administer the sacraments.

William Weedon said...

It was St. Paul who taught us that celebrating the Eucharist IS preaching the Gospel! Also, don't you think it's rather clear in Acts 20:7-11? Note that Paul in 1 Cor. 11 hands over to them what he had received from the Lord: "Do this." That was an instruction for Paul and so for the congregations he founded.