Fall to be reborn

Publish date 23-09-2020

by Chiara Dal Corso

In the choir and in the northern chapel of the Cathedral of Monreale (of which we have already spoken) are the magnificent mosaics that narrate some of the main events in the history of St. Paul: from his request to the elders of Jerusalem for letters of authorization for the persecution of Christians in Damascus, at the electrocution on the way to the Syrian city, at the entrance, blind, in Damascus, and other episodes until its beheading.

One for all we observe the representation of his conversion. Slumped to the ground, as if he had stumbled badly, a ray of light that illuminates his head, coming from the blessing hand of Jesus who makes himself seen from Heaven and looks at him as if he were talking to him, the traveling companions who do not see Jesus and they look around in amazement. And the writing that reports the event (Acts 9, 3-4). Thus begins the conversion of St. Paul, with a direct and decisive intervention, irrefutable (he will remain blind for three days, after having seen that light) of Jesus himself, who makes him fall, who speaks to him clearly, answers his question and it also gives precise indications on what to do. And after three days, to heal and baptize him, a disciple, Ananias, will arrive, sent and convinced by Jesus himself: "Go because he is the instrument that I have chosen for myself to bear my name before the nations, kings and children of 'Israel, and I will show him how much he must suffer for my name ”(Acts 9: 15-16). In fact, Ananias himself is initially hesitant: everyone knew the fame of Saul, an educated Pharisee and a connoisseur of the law, as well as a fierce persecutor of Christians, as he himself will say (Acts 26: 9-11).

Yet something extraordinary really happens here, in Saul's heart, more than in the external event. In fact, his radical change of life and testimony gives us the measure of how real and upsetting this encounter with Jesus was for him. From his actions and words reported in the Acts of the Apostles and from his numerous letters we understand that his love for Jesus was very strong, that from then on Jesus himself came close to him every now and then, encouraged him, talked with him, showed him very deep knowledge of his mystery.

And he, Paolo, for his part, with passion put all his soul into bearing witness to him, so much so that he realized in retrospect, and with amazement himself, that he had not feared anything, rather that he had undertaken long and dangerous journeys, endured beatings , whipping, even stoning (2Cor 11,23-29). And then this "fall" of Saul truly becomes the icon of the beginning of a great friendship that changes life, because it changes the heart and fills it with love and courage. And he teaches us that even in our "wrong" actions God knows how to look at our hearts, and gives us the opportunity to correct ourselves. Indeed, his correction can become the occasion of our life to meet him, discover his immense love and "jealous" of ours, who knows us deeply. If we want it, Jesus finds a way to enter into a relationship with us.

Chiara Dal Corso
NP June - July 2020

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