Tuesday, January 25

Lessons from the saints - conversion of Saint Paul

The story of Saul's conversion into arguably the most influential disciple of Christ is given to us twice in Acts and is very trodden ground.  As such, I'll skip the normal preamble recounting facts and move onto the analysis.

There are a number of ways one can interpret and apply this story to today...whether it be the Church as Saul, persecuting [insert group here] only to find out that they are persecuting Christ, a slightly more generalized discussion regarding dramatic conversions (a la Norbert, Luther etc.), another examination of epiphanies and personal paradigm shifts or something apologetic about Paul.

Instead...I come back to the well.  Judgment and Mercy and how Saul->Paul reflects the shift from Judaic 'angry-old-man' God to Christian 'loving father' God.

Saul is all about judging.  Judge, jury and executioner.  All about 'Justice'.  You must obey the Law, you must conform and you must be worthy of the Kingdom.  In a metaphorical sense, a strong argument can be made that he represents the authoritarian Church (note caps).

Paul, on the other hand, is not about 'Justice' and drones on for chapters about the futility of the Law as a measure of righteousness.  We're all under the executioner's axe, because we've ALL screwed up somewhere along the lines.  The executioner of the first Christian martyr should know that more than anyone.  So, for Paul, it's about Mercy.

This brings me to a number of places regarding judging...both others and ourselves. Most strongly, though, I keep coming back to my old buddy Mike (aka General of the Armies of Heaven, prince of light, Defender of Chonae, Angel of The Presence, Guardian of the Dead, guy who whooped Satan's butt, etc. etc.).  Micha'el....Who is like God?  Only God may judge.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy... 
Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors...

Judge not, lest ye be judged...

There are days I feel as if my ontology...my reality...is fundamentally different from others.  As if, somehow, I'm the only person who sees that snow is white when everyone else says it's black.  Whether it's matters religious or mundane, in the news or even in casual conversation, it seems that there is a constant low-level misinformation campaign. 

Now, I realise that this gets to the Jesuits..."I will believe the black I see before me is white if the hierarchical Church so defines it".... but I'm not a Jesuit at heart, but a Dominican.

"Follow the Truth, no matter where it may lead." 

I guess that means I'm a heretic, for to follow Truth often requires one to choose and 'the act of choice' is the literal translation for αίρεση and the heart of the matter.

He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  I choose that.  Some days, it feels that choice is a lonely one and a hard one.

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