3 “I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamali-el, educated according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as you all are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brethren, and I journeyed to Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished. 6 “As I made my journey and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And when I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus. 12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And in that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Just One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’
15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
THE FIRST READING tells the story of a vicious persecutor of the early Church. This once off supernatural rendezvous with Christ transformed Saul the persecutor into Paul the evangelist who went on a breathless expedition to convince all the world of the mercy of Christ Jesus and to draw all men to Him.
Upon hearing the question that exposed his crime, Saul sought to know what he must ‘do’ to please the Lord! Baptism is a necessary sacrament that saves, transforms and brings us into the new covenant with God. This ‘doing’ is a sacramental act of submission, being born anew by the grace of God from above. Jn 3ff; 8:23 Being saved by the blood of Christ (Rom 5:9) implies our continued transformation in Christ which begins in baptism and is sustained in the Eucharist. Each time we hurt, injure or sin against the body of Christ, we persecute Him! This fact negates the once saved, always saved, predestination doctrines.Moreover it dismantle the ‘doctrine’ that Jesus’ death washed away the believers’ sins such that he or she is righteous and destined for eternal life and unaffected by their sins!
St MARK records Jesus’ command to His apostles that they take His message throughout the world with a promise that those who “believe” and are “baptised” will be saved! To believe is to submit to God’s will as Saul did when he asked what he must ‘do’ which is to be baptised. What do we say about a babe or child;a deaf and or dumb person or someone who is mentally and cognitively constrained or in a coma? Do we overlook their need to be saved by God’s grace, by waiting for them to be grown up or be firstly healed from their ailments!? Of Course not! It is our duty as brothers, sisters, parents and members of the body of Christ to initiate relationships on behalf of others with Christ by our discipleship because we are co-workers in God’s vineyard.
LET US PRAY:Psalms 117:1-2
1 Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! 2 For great is his steadfast love toward us; and the faithfulness of the LORD endures for ever. Praise the LORD!
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