God converts, not man- Friday, 3rd Week of Easter, Acts 9:1-20

God converts, not man – Friday, 3rd Week of Easter, Acts 9:1-20

Perhaps as many scholars suggest, this passage of the conversion of Saul (his Hebrew name) is one that was dear to the heart of Luke, for he mentions it thrice in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 22:6 -16; 26:12—18).

This is the third conversion story that we will read in quick succession. The Samaritan conversion facilitated by Philip is followed by the eunuch of Ethiopia, and now the show stopper – the conversion of Paul. It is a fallacy to believe that humans have the power to convert; they are only chosen by God to be the human instrument as we will see in the case of Saul and Ananias. The one who truly converts is God, and hence I think a certain correction in our minds is imperative for those who see ‘Christians as convertors’.

The passage begins with the rage of Saul against the Christians. We are told he is “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” Anger, if not checked can be a ballistic missile gone rogue; crazy enough to murder others. To ignore anger as a minor irritant in our spiritual life is to ignore the early warning signs of the impending doom of our actions. Where the mind goes, the man follows.

Paul has set out on the way to Damascus to put to death those who belonged “to the way”; this is how the early Christians were referred to. It is ironic how Saul, who had lost his way was seeking those who were ‘of the way’. Yet it is on the way that he encounters the ‘Lord of the way’.

The encounter we are told is ‘sudden’ for God enters our life at His time, when we least expect. This word “suddenly” finds itself in Acts 2:1 on the day of Pentecost and again in Luke 24:4 (Acts and Luke are both written by St Luke) on Easter Sunday. Interestingly the Lord does not only make a sudden appearance but He also ‘care-fronts’ the person with a direct question. Jesus makes it clear that it is not the Christians that Paul is persecuting, but Jesus himself; “Why do you persecute ME…I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (verse4).

When the Lord breaks into our world, He demands a radical change. A Christian who has experienced the Lord must now “get up”. Paul is asked to “get up” (verse 6) and that’s what he does (verse 8). But Saul is not the only one in whose life the Lord breaks through on this momentous day; there is another and his name is Ananias. He too is asked to “go” (verse 15) and lay hands on Saul and baptize him.

Was it easy for Ananias to do God’s will? I think that he, like the Prophet Jonah was reluctant, for Ananias tries to dissuade the Lord from the mission he has been given. It almost seems like Ananias has forgotten that the Lord knows everything, for he wants to remind Jesus that “Saul is full of evil”. Perhaps it had dawned on Ananias that he was on Saul’s death wish too. Why should he, like the prophet Jonah, be compelled by God to work towards the redemption of his enemy?

Yet God uses Ananias, reluctant as he may be, to be the instrument of His Grace. Perhaps there were two conversions that day, Saul and Ananias. Two mind sets were changed; one towards the love of God and the other towards the love of an enemy. The conversion of Paul has both the horizontal and vertical dimension, tracing the pattern of the cross.

How do we know for certain that Ananias was also converted from hate to love? The answer is in his address to Saul when he meets him in Damascus – he addresses him as “Brother Saul” (verse 17).

 Fr Warner D’Souza

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6 thoughts on “God converts, not man- Friday, 3rd Week of Easter, Acts 9:1-20”

  • Totally agree! No Mortal can convert another to Any form of belief other than his/her own, until & unless That person is convinced & led by some sort of Divine intervention or encounter, to follow a radically new mindset.
    I often wonder why fanatics do Not get this simple fact. It’s sheer foolishness to persecute missionaries, religious & even lay people who lead exemplary lives & are hence emulated, angered that They are the reason or forces behind conversions.

  • In the heart of it all…the message that stands strong for me is the conversion of Ananias and loving your enemies and doing good to them. Much different than some of us these days who give in to hate, propagation of hate, anger and shaming (murdering) ones enemies all in the name of religion and rights.
    Easy to say forgive our enemies…and feel enlightened and holy about it after reading morning scripture…but are we ACTUALLY loving our persecutors/enemies the way Jesus would? Whilst we may not be violent in our dealings, we resort to speaking ill of them, imposing our own personal views of hate disguised as advice to people….Tough pill to swallow…

  • This is one of my favourite action scenes from the Bible along with the story of Abrahams sacrifice of Issac. Both evoke very strong imagery in the mind and speak of Gods perfect timing in appearing on the scene of his own script.

  • This is really awesome reflection Fr.People has a wrong perception of conversion ad all but I always explained them that it is not human being who does but it is God’s will and God who does it.In John 15:16 Lord says “You didn’t choose me but I choose you”.Got to learn new thing that along with Saul there was a conversion of Annanias too from hatred to love saying Saul “Brother Saul”.Thanks for sharing Fr.God always chooses nobody and make them to somebody and changes them as per his time which is perfect and which is very sudden.

  • Thank you for this sharing and explanation Fr… It’s true that God doesn’t choose the qualified, but He qualifies those He chooses. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  • Great is THY NAME LORD,

    for I really don’t understand how YOU TOUCH our Hearts and tolerate us when NOT TOUCHED…

    Grant us the HUMILITY to stay Worthy of YOUR IMMENSE LOVE & GRACE.

    ThankU Fr. Warner,


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