”I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I went there in order to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment. “
While I was on my way and approaching Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Then he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.
I asked, ‘What am I to do, Lord?’ The Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.’ Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus. “A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there, came to me; and standing beside me, he said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight!’
In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice; for you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard. And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.’
There have been many times in my life when I have wished that God would direct me as clearly as he did St. Paul in this Gospel reading. Don’t we all sometimes wish that God would just tell us what to do next? On the other hand, there have also been times when I have felt as if I have indeed been hit over the head with an insight or some direction that seems to have come from God. I think the difference between the two situations tends to revolve around how closely I am paying attention to God’s work in my life. And that has to do with how much time I’m spending in prayer on a regular basis.
When have you seen God at work in your own life? Have there been times when it has been obvious? Or do you need to spend a little time becoming better attuned to the direction God wants to give you?
—Mandy Dillon is a Retreat Coordinator at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.
Lord God, open my heart to be attentive to your movements in my life. Help me to recognize your invitation so that I can respond out of love for you. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer team