Festival of the Conversion of St. Paul
Posted on January 25, 2023 byunder
Scripture: St. Luke 4:22-30 (NKJV)
4:22 So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”
23 He said to them, “You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in Your country.’” 24 Then He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. 25 But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; 26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.”
28 So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29 and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. 30 Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.
God’s Law says, “You shall not murder.” But some in the synagogues—who even claimed to be God’s people—thought it was right to murder those who offended their vain piety. St. Paul was such a person. Known as Saul before his conversion, he consented to Stephen being murdered in similar circumstances. Such sinners had no right to kill Jesus or Stephen; they had no vocational justification to punish the Lord or His servant. But this is the work that Satan stirs up in the hearts of men and women. They say, “Lord, Lord! I am just and faithful…,” but they despise those who preach repentance and humility to them.
We must not delude ourselves; our sinful hearts are viciously hostile to God’s holy will and Law. Even if we don’t physically try to kill the messengers of truth, our hearts are inclined to resentment that is just as wicked. “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. …whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matt. 5:22).
The conversion of St. Paul is a great comfort for those who are brought to faith. Even as he was turned from a wicked and hostile enemy of God to a humble and faithful servant, Christ can do the same in us by the profound power of His merciful Word and Sacraments in His true Church!
Prayer: Merciful Lord, we beseech Thee to cast the bright beams of Thy light upon Thy Church, that it being instructed by the doctrine of the blessed Apostles, may so walk in the light of Thy truth, that it may at length attain to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Collect for the Third Sunday after Epiphany
Almighty and Everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities, stretch forth the right hand of Thy Majesty, to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.