Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection January 25, 2024


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R/. Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel.

V/. Alleluia R/. Alleluia

V/. I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, says the Lord.

R/. Alleluia

At that time: [Appearing to the Eleven] Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

1.      Today on 25th January we celebrate the conversion of Paul. His conversion narrative is so dramatic and the details are very suggestive. He was on his way to Damascus with a destructive plan to persecute and terminate the followers of Christ.

2.       But on the way, he encounters Jesus. Great light from heaven shone around him. He falls to the ground. He hears the voice of Jesus himself. Jesus confronts him, “Why are you persecuting me?” He loses his sight. He is led to Damascus, to a devout Ananias. He restores sight to Paul and discloses to him God’s plan for him. He confirms him in his new mission of bearing witness to the Lord.

3.       The conversion of Paul is a great eye-opener for all of us regarding our own unconverted lives. Bearing the name of a Christian, having the label or garb of a disciple of Christ, believing some doctrines, following some traditions, and performing some religious activities are good but not enough. These are not guarantees of conversion.

4.       Real conversion must touch the heart and change the way of life. One greatest sign of conversion is the realization that failure in fraternity is a failure in faith: Any act of persecuting and harming others is persecuting the Lord himself and obstructing his way. There is no use of great evangelization or even working great miracles if we lack fraternity and charity.

5.       Conversion also implies openness to encounter the great light from heaven, to realize and dispel our own shades of darkness, and to receive new sight. How many of us allow God’s light to shine upon us? How many realize that we are still walking in the dark? How many are ready to receive constantly the new light of a renewed purpose, a renewed way, a renewed loyalty, a renewed commitment?

6.       Paul’s conversion was the greatest turning point from being a persecutor to being persecuted, from a blind hater to a passionate lover of Christ, from slavery to wrong ideology to loyalty to deep spirituality. How many are really ready to suffer something for God and others?

7.       How absurd it is that many claim to love and serve God while they hate others and God’s ways? How many adamantly and arrogantly stick to their own wrong ways and self-interests and become disloyal to the directives of a genuine spirituality?

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