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Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Great Chase

By Juan Rodriguez

As they raced towards the synagogues of Damascus, Saul's heart was surged with violence. His mission was to destroy the heretical group of Jews who believed in Jesus. Saul knew full well it was his divine duty, given by the Jewish Council in Jerusalem, to bring about persecution amongst the people of The Way. The High Priest had given Saul his blessing and so the mission had begun. The dust beat upon his brow and he covered his face against the lethal amount of sand spraying backward from the hooves of his men’s thundering horses. Damascus was their destination.

They raced as quickly as possible. The sun was unrelenting for Saul and his men, but they would not give up. Saul and his men were like a pack lions hunting for their prey. Nothing stood in their path.

Riding through valleys of desert and hard rocks that littered the way, Saul noticed with in his sight a gray cloud forming. Suddenly the roaring winds pushed his horse back. His men shielded their faces from the great winds, but could not see any gray clouds. Saul was the only one who could it. He was directly under the dark gray cloud. As he slowed to a halt, a bolt of lightning ripped through the clouds and split the ground beneath the hooves of his horse. The horse reared up and threw Saul right from his saddle. Saul fell beneath the trampling horse, but no harm was done to him. He tried hard to stand, but the bright light that flashed before his eyes, felt like glaring beams of light bursting through his eyelids. Saul could not breath because the wind continued to blast sand in his face. The cloud rumbled within its bosom, like an angry dragon ready to pounce him to death.

The men tried their best to help Saul, but Saul crawled back in fright, swinging his arms to regain his bearings, as he tried to run from the roaring winds and crackling thunder that growled within the clouds. A voice came to him, mightier then the thunderbolt, piercing his heart, saying "Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?" Saul raised his hands to guard his face, fearing that the voice would strike at him. But somehow the voice had a quality that eased his heart, and he slowly released his grip and pushed away his fear. Hesitantly, he asked, "Who are you, Lord?"
The powerful, yet gentle voice replied, " I am Jesus whom you are persecuting."

Saul, in hearing these words, was filled with great pain, as he remembered the people he had persecuted. The people of the "Way" came to his mind like arrows piercing his soul, and he saw with sorrow the pain and struggles he [had] put them through. Most of all, he remembered Stephen, whose death he had witnessed, whose murder he had cheered for. Saul laid his head against a rock, and wept silently. The violence and anger was gone. He was filled with only anguish, and a desperate desire to beg for forgiveness.

The men looked around, trying to find the source of the gentle voice. They wondered at what was happening to Saul, but they were not willing to come close to him. They saw tears pouring from his face, almost as though he was overcome with deep pain. The voice spoke only to Saul, yet the men heard it powerfully in their own hearts.

Before Saul could cry out again to the Gentle Voice, it pierced his mind and heart again, "Now get up and go into the city; there you will be told what you are to do."

The wind slowly calmed to a steady breeze, and the roar of the thunder eased as though the storm had gone its distance. Saul tried to lift himself up, using a boulder for support. To his surprise, as he opened his eyes, he could see only blurry figures in front of him. His vision would not clear. His men knelt before him to help him through this ordeal. Saul could not help but fear this Voice, and at the same time, knew he must obey it in humility. With quivering lips, he whispered, "Forgive me Lord, Forgive me!"

Taken from Acts of the Apostles 9

Dedication To St. Paul on the Feast Day of His Conversion. St. Paul, Pray for us!

For More information on St. Paul, check out these

St. Paul - Brief History
St. Paul - Extended History


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