FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
Saul Transformed to Paul (Thenchanged forever)
To appreciate the importance of Paul’s visit with Barnabas to the Apostles in Jerusalem, we need a little journey back to the daily readings of the past two
weeks. The readings of the Third and Fourth weeks of Easter narrated the high enthusiasm of the early Christians after Christ was crucified and resurrected.
However, this joy and enthusiasm of the Gospel was numbed by the Jewish zealots, who were led by the young man called Saul. The most celebrated victim of
Saul’s anti-Christ persecution was Saint Stephen. Saul had gone to the Jewish Temple's authority and secured permission to bring those followers of the new
religion, Christianity, and have them executed. Saul was very committed that he was doing God’s work, but his experience proved that nobody does God’s work, unless God chose that person. It was in one of such persecution expeditions to Damascus that Saul encountered Christ. This encounter changed the life of Saul forever. Through the holy man of God, named Ananias, Saul, was prayed over to receive his sight and have a new name Paul. Isn’t it amazing what God can do with so a little. God simply removed ‘S’ and replaced it with ‘P’. Recall, Abram to Abraham?
Christians must be convinced that once we encounter Christ we cannot remain the same. No one puts his hands to the plow and looks back Is worthy of the kingdom of God, Scripture advices. Based on the above scenario, we can now discuss Paul
and Barnabas' visit to Jerusalem. The evil of Saul’s persecution of Christians was so barbaric and terrible that the Apostles in Jerusalem were deeply terrified to see the man the entire Christendom dreaded. But, God can always bring good out of evil. Crucifixion of Good Friday gave rise to the joyous Easter resurrection. The spirit of God entered Barnabas and he calmed the fears of the Apostles. The book of the Acts of the Apostles captured it thus, “When Saul arrived in Jerusalem he
tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. Then Barnabas took charge of him and brought him to the apostles, and he
reported to them how he had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. He moved about freely with them in Jerusalem and spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord. He also spoke and debated with the Hellenists, but they tried to kill him. And when the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him on his way to
Tarsus.” There is a reason why Christ made Peter the Head of his Church. The hierarchy of the Mother Church is not for decoration, but to teach, guide and provide for her faithful the right path to salvation. Paul becomes full disciple of Christ after he came to pay homage to the Apostles in Jerusalem (Hierarchy). So, when the
Apostles sent Paul to Tarsus, the Apostles had commissioned him to begin the special mission, which Christ had ordained him on his way to Damascus.
I will invite us, brothers and sisters, on this Fifth Sunday of Easter to always pray and discern all events in our lives, both good and bad; and ask God to show us what he really wants us to be? Amen! In Christ, Father Uche Obikwelu