Today the Church celebrates second chances! Chapter 22 of the Acts of the Apostles contains one of the accounts of Saul's conversion to new life as Paul. It isn't the dramatic scenes with the bright light and Christ's call that struck me today. Instead, the gentle but encouraging voice of Ananias has stayed with me.
"A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law, and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me and stood there and said, 'Saul, my brother, regain your sight.' And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him. Then he said, 'The God of our ancestors designated you .....(St. Paul Outside the Walls, Rome)
to know His will, for you will be His witness before all to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay? Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away, calling upon His name.'"
Ananias knew of Saul's past persecutions, knew of Saul's work against the Church, but he also knew of Christ's power to change the hearts of others. He welcomed Paul as a witness to Christ and encouraged him to be baptized...all this support from a man who simply allowed God to give a second chance. If Saul the persecutor can become Paul the Apostle, I too can become someone new in Christ! This fits well with our Benedictine vow of Converstatio Morum (Fidelity to the Monastic Way). Within Converstatio, there is the daily opportunity to fully live the call to follow Benedict in seeking Christ. Every day is a second chance to be converted and more fully live washed and baptized in Christ. Everyday is also the opportunity to be Ananias for my sisters, co-workers, and students; to take on his role of welcoming and encouraging those who need a second chance.
Hmm...that leaves much to do this day...
Blessings and Happy Feast,