REFLECT – Day 25:
The early Church practiced extreme mercy and forgiveness. When Stephen becomes the first martyr, he echoes the words of Jesus on the cross: ‘Lord do not hold this sin against them’ (7.60).
Saul is one who approves of Stephen’s death and devotes his life to the persecution of the Church. Until…
Today’s passage is Acts 9:10-18. Bear in mind the context of the day, the brutal killings that were normal, the zeal those like Saul had for what they understood and how they thought it would please God. Then notice how Saul encounters great mercy.
The story of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus is well-known. Half the story is given to the way in which Ananias welcomes Saul, his persecutor, into the life of the church.
Ananias’ first word to Saul is a word of courage: ‘Brother Saul’. Ananias prays for his enemy who has become his friend, prepares him for baptism and welcomes him into the life of the Church.
Only God could have really done this radical work in both the lives of Saul and Ananias. Both seemed reluctant at first and but both show ultimately great obedience to God and surrender to his transforming work. How might God use us to extend his mercy and see lives transformed? Are we often reluctant but perhaps God is calling us to greater obedience. Following in the footsteps of Ananias.
It is this quality of extreme mercy which gives the Church the ability to cross continents and to draw many to the fire of God’s love. It is needed in every local church as we seek to welcome the sinner and the stranger.
o Holy Jesus…most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may we know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day.
after Richard of Chichester (1253)
Who are the people in your networks who need you to be like Ananias in the coming months?