A horse is never mentioned in any of the accounts of St. Paul's conversion. A light? Yes. Falling to the ground? You bet. Hearing a voice? "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting." (Acts 9:5)
Yet, in so many artistic portrayals of St. Paul's conversion, there is a horse with Paul either dramatically falling from it or already pressed against the ground.
Though technically a diversion from the Scriptural accounts, these images in paint illustrate vividly what Our Blessed Lord does when He comes to each of us: He knocks us down from our preconceptions, our prejudices, our sins, our anger/frustration/sadness/name the emotion so He can pull us up made new in His image and likeness, living in the Truth, and ready to share Him with all we encounter.
Easier said then done, right? This is why we must return to the Scriptural narrative. In his letter to the Galatians (cf. Galatians 1), St. Paul recounts how after his conversion he spent three years in Damascus preaching and praying, and building up the community before he set out on his journeys throughout the Roman Empire preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The journey from Saul to Paul the Apostle did not happen immediately. It, like every true conversion, started with a profound, personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Then, again like every other conversion, it required time, prayer, authentic friendships, and a loving, supportive community before it blossomed into its fullness.
Each of us is called to go from Saul to Paul. Jesus is seeking you zealously. Even if you are from Him, He lovingly awaits the moment He will pour His boundless grace and mercy into your heart. When He does shine His light upon us -- whether it be in the waters of Baptism, in the Sacrament of Confession, in a humble, loving reception of Him in the Eucharist , in the chapel, or, like St. Paul, on our own road to Damascus, whatever that might be -- He won't abandon us. In fact, as He summoned Ananias to Saul, He will put holy, virtuous friends in our lives, He will welcome us into His community, the Church, He will challenge us to work on our hearts, to build meaningful, Christ-centered friendships, to change vices into virtue, to fall madly in love with Him. Then, He will set us loose.
If Jesus hasn't knocked you to the ground with His love yet, He will. Maybe it's time to attend Hoosier Awakening. Maybe it's time to get back to Confession. Maybe it's time to join or go back to a small group Bible study.
Seek God who is seeking you. Persevere. Keep the faith. Christ comes with power then, little by little, He sets about the hard yet wonderful task of making us saints. Then, Someday, each of us, by God's grace, can and will say with St. Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
Fr. Patrick is a Dominican priest and the Campus Minister.