Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Chosen Instrument

January 25 2010
Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, the apostle

By Beth DeCristofaro

Paul addressed the people in these words: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city. At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way to death, binding both men and women and delivering them to prison. (Acts 22:3-4)

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, AAnanias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. … and lay his hands on him, that he may regain his sight.” But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:10-16)

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16)

Open my eyes today, Lord Jesus, to the beauty of life. Open my ears, Lord, that I might hear your voice. Open my heart, Lord, that I might place you always at its center. Open my lips, Lord, that I might speak my words for your glory not my own.

The lectionary offers two choices for a first reading today and I chose a passage from both. I was struck with the experiences of the two men Paul and Ananias. Both were strong believers in their faith. They were both chosen by God in startling and unpleasant ways. There was resistance – by Paul before his conversion and by Ananias when he heard God’s voice – to the new reality, the new community and covenantal relationship which God had forged with his people through Jesus the Christ. Both, in the end, said “yes” and experienced conversion which changed not only their own lives but the course of humanity’s spiritual awareness and journey to God.

This story is awe inspiring as we see how God’s view of community was so incredibly different than the zealous Jew and the apprehensive Christian could imagine. God had a bigger plan for the world and a bigger plan for each of them. Each man was an important tool for God, each man had his place, and God’s plan at this moment in history depended on a “yes” from reluctant participants. No doubt if Ananias or Paul had not agreed, God would have found other instruments. But their story shows us how marvelous and surprising is the movement of God when we partake.

It makes me wonder if my idea of being a Christian and being in community is large enough or flexible enough to be open to the unexpected call from God. Or do my definitions of the way things are (or should be) and the very important tasks of my day and my life distract me from God’s requests to me. Does God need to knock me off my horse to get my attention or am I listening?

Cursillo offers us a chance to be a better friend to Christ without falling off a horse. Have you partaken in formation through School of Leaders or served on a team? Have you given time and energy palanca to a weekend lately? Have you brought a friend to a weekend?

School of Leaders will be held on February 12. Check out the Cursillo website for details and for other resources for your piety and study.

And there are two teams in formation. Is your group reunion able to help Thursday of the weekend with handling luggage or providing a meal for the team? Help at Closing? Will you attend Manunita? Cook a meal ? Check out the website. Sign up or ask the Angel or Rector/Rectora what is currently needed.

If time is not available to you, place each team and the candidates who will attend in your prayer.