Here is an excerpt from a sermon by The Rev. Dr. Luke Bouman for today's feast:
The extraordinary thing that we learn about God, in Jesus, is that forgiveness and conversion are possible at all. Acts (and we must admit that Luke may exaggerate for the sake of the story) portrays Paul as the greatest enemy of the earliest followers of “The Way.” But rather than smite him, or demonize him, Jesus instead takes his gifts of zeal and persuasion, and puts them to work for the Gospel.I agree. What is most notable about today's observance, is that it's possible for conversions to happen at all. That possibility is really what we celebrate. And that can bring each of us enormous consolation.
An encounter with the risen Lord can do that for a person... The first good news in this story is that God doesn't give up on Paul, nor does God give up on us. Even when we are at enmity with God, God loves us and claims us. And since God does not separate us into “good” people and “evil” people, we no longer have to do that with each other. We need not justify our actions by pointing at others and proclaiming how bad they are, quite simply because God does not.
Conversion happens. Turnarounds happen. But they don't happen because I make them happen in myself. They happen because I am grasped, time after time, in an encounter with the risen Christ. Such is the wonder of our God.