“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
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I was zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way to death, binding both men women and delivering them to prison.
In today’s scripture, St. Paul was reflecting back to when he was known as Saul.
At that time, Saul was sure that he was doing God’s work when he was terrorizing the early Christians known as the “Way”.
He was described as “breathing murderous threats” (Acts 9:1).
Saul was organizing round-ups of these followers of Jesus and having them dragged off to prison.
Some were killed.
Does that sound like a “man of God” to you?
Saul ends up having a mystical encounter on the road to Damascus when he is knocked to the ground by a blinding light.
That’s when he hears a voice stating, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.”
Since Jesus had been crucified, this came as a great shock to Saul.
And quite the revelation as well.
Jesus said that Saul was persecuting him by persecuting his followers.
Saul eventually became one of the most zealous followers of Jesus whose writings have influenced millions.
If you are persecuting people, anyone actually, with hateful words or actions, in the name of God – this should give you pause.
While we are called to work for justice, we are called first and foremost to love God and our neighbor as ourselves.
Jesus said these were the greatest commandments.
Paul would go on to write: “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
It’s obvious that Love had powerfully transformed this man.
May each of us humbly examine our own hearts and allow Love to transform us.
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Remember: God loves you!