Yesterday the Church celebrated one of my favorite feasts, the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul. For me it celebrates the power of God in our lives. Saul of Tarsus, a faithful Jewish leader who, as a zealot, put his whole self into the prosecution of the ‘upstart blasphemy’ of Christianity, was brought into the faith he hated by Christ Himself. People change, no matter what their station in life is, if they desire the truth; and this is what Saul sought – God’s truth. It was the truth that brought me into the Catholic Church. I was sure that if I studied Catholicism’s flawed logic I could refute it with truth. But here I am; I desired the truth and here I am.
But, the desire for truth can be thwarted by the fear of the journey. Conversion story after conversion story show the struggle to overcome the various fears of accepting truth. The fear of change that this acceptance calls for; change of life style and priorities. The fear of alienation from family and friends as they reject the change; and to some the fear of persecution by governments and society. This journey towards truth seems to be crowded with overwhelming forces that can make a person give up.
However, if we allow the truth into our hearts and minds we can take great courage that God is enough to defeat our fears; God is enough to defend our choices from the overwhelming odds that scare us into inactivity – with Him at our side we are not alone, we are not weak, we are His.
Today’s readings bring to light this strength that accepting the fullness of truth gives us. For most of us the reference to Midian in the readings passes us without impact and that is a shame for it is a great narrative from the Book of Judges that proclaims God’s power. In spite of an overwhelming force against them, Gideon’s army was further reduced by God himself to a mere 300 soldiers. And with absolute faith Gideon did as God asked and went to meet this immense enemy with these 300 and defeated them. Gideon’s experience shows us that with God at our side, we never should fear the odds because He works for and with us. Moses stood in face of the Pharaoh and all of Egypt to free God’s chosen people. Christ created His Church with 12 apostles and a few score of disciples against the whole of the Jewish establishment and the largest empire on earth, the Romans; and He did this with no army!
Brothers and sisters, this reflection isn’t only about those who are taking the step of conversion, we are all in the position of Gideon, Moses and St. Paul. We, as Catholics, are staring in the face of overwhelming odds when we try to live our faith publically. We are threatened, in varying degrees, when we go out proclaim the Gospel by our lives. We too have the option of quietly acquiescing and holding our faith silent to be safe. So we need to grasp the whole truth and take courage in God’s companionship, allowing his all-knowing and all-powerful Self to guide us and strengthen us in our journey, in the journey He selected for us. St. Paul, in his letter to Timothy wrote: ‘The grace of our Lord has been granted me in overflowing measure, along with the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.’ This is true for each us – let us take this and go out and proclaim to the world as St. Paul did, unafraid.