One person who was definitely touched and changed by God’s Word was St Paul. This Saturday we celebrated the Feast of his “conversion” on the road to Damascus. What really changed the course of Paul’s life was the words that he heard in the short dialogue that he had with Jesus. Most importantly, Paul showed that he is willing to listen to this word, and act accordingly. “What am I to do, Lord?” was Paul’s constant mindset through his whole life.
These thoughts accompany us as we enter into this Sunday’s liturgy. Jesus is embarking on his public ministry. Deliberately, he chooses to begin not in Jerusalem or in the temple, but at the periphery of Zebulun and Naphtali, two towns whose faith had been tainted or lost for about seven hundred years. The coming of the living Word amongst these peoples brought “great light”, the gospel tells us, to a “people who sat in darkness”. Before even starting to perform any miracles, Jesus had a word for these people. It was a simple, yet challenging word: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”. Repentance, or conversion, is not necessarily what happens when a great sinner becomes a saint! It is, rather, a wake-up call, inviting us to realize that all that has to do with heaven is really close to us. Our God is not a distant God. He is the Emmanuel whom we have celebrated during our Christmas festivities: the God-is-with-us. Conversion happens when, realizing the beauty of living for our God, my life takes a different meaning. It does not necessarily change who I am, my character, or my personality. Paul had a fiery character, passionate in all that he did. This did not change after Damascus. Rather, what happened was that he now uses that energy to proclaim God’s love-message wherever he went. Similarly, it is very significant that, when Jesus calls the disciples in today’s gospel, he tells them “I will make you fishers of people” - highly symbolic language implying that, from now on, they will use their talents and all they knew for the sake of the kingdom. Jesus and his mission now take first place in the disciples’ lives.
This is the invitation for us today. What is it that God is telling me in my life? I know that I am not alone. Jesus’ “great light” comes to enlighten and clarify my choices and my decisions. Then, I know that he is with me, providing me with all that I need to fulfil my mission