by Mike Punzal
On Wednesday, January 25, we remember the Conversion of Saint Paul. Once a sinner, St. Paul’s story teaches us how God’s mercy is more powerful than any of our greatest sin, and that each of us is invited to convert.
No one is more aware of the passage of time than a convert. There is a clear before and after whose threshold is a life-changing encounter with Christ. Saint Augustine’s celebrated exclamation is the most iconic expression of this: “Too late have I loved Thee!” In more recent times the famous British journalist and Catholic convert, Malcolm Muggeridge, poignantly entitled his 1972 autobiography Chronicles of Wasted Time—an allusion to a line from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 106, whose theme, in a context far removed from religious conversion, evokes the imperfection of things past as prophetically foreshadowing present fulfillment.
Looking at conversion in hindsight, as an isolated moment in time, might make all of the before time seem wasted. But considering the past in the light of grace, connections emerge that reveal the hand of God steadily at work even in the midst of our worst mistakes. A string of unlikely events and providential encounters that bring a soul to the point where they are prepared to meet the Lord and say yes to Him is a divine work that grace alone can accomplish. So, let us not be afraid to hope like Paul, to become better persons, to become witnessed of Christ.