Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Feast of the Conversion of St Paul

"We have this day heard read out of the Acts of the Apostles how that the Apostle Paul, from being a persecutor of the Christians, was changed into a preacher of Christ.  Christ laid low the persecutor, that he might raise him up a teacher of his Church.  He smote and healed him; he slew and made him alive again.  For the Lord Christ is that Lamb that was himself slain by the wolves, and that now turneth the wolves into lambs.  Now was fulfilled in Paul that which was clearly spoken in prophecy by the patriarch Jacob, when he blessed his children, laying his hands indeed on them which then were, but looking forward to the things which were yet for to come.  Paul beareth witness of himself that he was of the tribe of Benjamin; and when Jacob blessed his sons, and came to bless Benjamin, he said: Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf.

What then?  Is Benjamin a wolf that shall ravin for ever? God forbid.  For as saith the Scripture: In the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.  This is exactly what was fulfilled in the Apostle Paul.  If it please you, we will now consider how in the morning he devoured the prey, and at night divided the spoil.  Here morning and evening are put for the beginning and the end.  So we may read, In the beginning he shall devour the prey, and at the end he shall divide the spoil.  First, then, in the beginning, he devoured the prey.  So it is written that he received letters from the chief priests and went forth, that wheresoever he should find any Christians, he might bring them bound unto the priests, that they might be punished.

He went breathing out threatenings and slaughter, yea truly, devouring the prey.  When also they stoned Stephen, the first Martyr that laid down his life for Christ's Name's sake, Saul was consenting unto his death, and, as though it contented him not to stone him, he kept the clothes of all them that did it, urging them on more than if he had joined them.  So in the morning he devoured the prey.  How in the evening did he divide the spoil?  Struck down by the voice of Christ from heaven, ravining no more, he falleth upon his face, cast down to be raised up, smitten to be healed."

--From a sermon by St Augustine

No comments: