Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. There are lots of things going on in the readings for today from Acts, and in this story, but I want to focus on just one: Ananias. Ananias appears first in Acts 9:10-16, and without quoting the entire passage, I want to point out things to consider from it:
First, Ananias is told, flat out, that God has guaranteed to Saul that Ananias will come and heal him.
Second, Ananias knows very well who Saul is, and what he has done and planned to do to Christians. He is understandably hesitant to go to him.
Third, Ananias is convinced when God tells him Saul is to be an instrument of God in preaching the Gospel, and that he will suffer for His (God’s) name.
Fourth, Ananias goes and finds Saul and heals him.
Let’s think of this in terms of all our journeys of discipleship. Many of us might have a powerful experience of God, an encounter with Jesus Christ where we don’t even know who He is, or what He wants from us at first. And that experience may be so incredible that we can understand St. Paul’s position. St. Paul is physically, literally, blinded by it, but many of us can at least identify with being so focused on it that we can think of nothing else. In one sense, we don’t see anything else but that moment. We certainly don’t see the road ahead. And like St. Paul we can get stuck in that moment praying and waiting for some sign, for someone to show us the next step.
Enter Ananias. Ananias plays a crucial role in Saul becoming St. Paul – he is the one who helps him move past and through his initial conversion into living out his discipleship – into being the great preacher and missionary of the New Testament, and a martyr for Jesus Christ who suffered yet with incandescent joy for God all his life. Without Ananias doing God’s will as one disciple helping another disciple (one he had strong reasons to believe would actually arrest and execute him), we don’t have St. Paul, half the New Testament, etc.
Be someone’s Ananias. Don’t be afraid. Trust the power of the Holy Spirit to change the hearts, minds, and lives of people. If God can convert Saul of Tarsus, He can convert anyone. Let us trust Him and do our part to help disciples BE disciples. As Ananias said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me […].”