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(A reflection on today’s first reading from Acts 9:1-20)

Ananais Restoring the Sight of St. Paul, Jean Il Restout, 1719, The Louvre Museum

One of my favorite television series as a child in the 60’s was Mission: Impossible. At the beginning of each episode, Jim Phelps (played by actor Peter Graves) received a tape recorded message describing a mission being presented to him that began, “Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it….”. Each mission was complicated and dangerous and had a high likelihood of ending with him and his team of secret agents losing their lives. Without fail, Agent Phelps accepted the impossible mission and successfully completed it.

This memory came from out of nowhere this morning as I read the Scripture for the day. The first reading from Acts is the account of Saul’s conversion and baptism. The Lord struck Saul, blinded him and left him to sit praying at the house of Judas for three days. Simultaneously, the Lord called upon Ananais, a follower of the Way, to go to Saul and lay hands on him so that he would regain his sight. The Lord told Ananais, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for in my name.”

Scripture doesn’t say, but Ananais either passed that message along to Saul or it came to Saul via the Holy Spirit, and he immediately began to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God in the synagogues of Damascus.

God created Saul just like the rest of us, with free will to accept him or to turn away from him. Saul chose to accept Jesus as the Son of God and, in so doing, accepted what had to seem like an impossible mission at the time: convince and convert the entire world to do the same. One difference between Saul and Jim Phelps was that Saul knew the mission, in the end, would definitely result in his death.

Saul, the other Apostles, and the saints throughout the centuries made a pretty good start at converting the world. But, the work is still not completed. God calls each of us in our baptism and confirmation to continue their work. With the condition the world is in today, it may seem like an even more impossible mission. Yet, we can do it one person at a time, because the other difference between our work and Jim Phelps’ is that, with God, all things are possible!

What can you do today to be part of the Mission: Possible team?

“Heavenly Father, thank You for Your love. Lord Jesus, thank You for Your forgiveness and mercy. Holy Spirit, thank You for opening my heart to the will of God and urging me to continue the work of the Apostolic Fathers and saints in this Mission: Possible.

“I resolve today, Lord, to reach out to a friend who is hurting and invite her to join my wife and I in praying a Rosary for healing during the month of May, per our Holy Father’s request. Amen.”

(Mission: Possible was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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