My thoughts (John Seksay):
I have a range of playlists on my iPod, including a group of hard rock favorites. That list always starts with the song “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. Most people would say that traditional rock music from the ’60s and ’70s was not very spiritual. But this song is about a spiritual journey. At one point, the lyrics say:
“Yes, there are two paths you can go by,
But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.”
Most of us start life sorting out what we see done around us into a way to handle the process of living. It’s generally a hodge-podge of family habits, observed social norms, and, for some of us, religious instruction. We have a very strong desire to fit in and be part of what we know best. We try to be very reasonable about this and do what seems to make sense at the time. We want to go with the flow and roll with it.
That was the way with Saul — he was a zealous Jew, the defender of all law and tradition for his people. But there was another path he could go by, one which he shouldn’t tolerate according to his community’s understanding of law and tradition. He was a ferocious persecutor of those who dared to think or act differently!
But sometimes the path we’ve chosen isn’t the one the Spirit would have us on. When this is the case, we often find that we will eventually have a “road to Damascus” moment — a time when everything we’ve built seems to collapse like a house of cards. The new message seems to literally come out of the blue, as the saying goes. For Saul, the moment came when he had to acknowledge the Paul within him and learn to embrace a whole new life.
“Your head is humming and it won’t go
In case you don’t know,
The piper’s calling you to join him”
These moments often turn our “world” upside down and inside out. But, as we work our way through the change, we become more true to who we actually are within, regardless of the roles our traditional society would have us adopt. Saul seemed very steadfast simply because his society supported him in the traditional pattern. The new Paul was actually far more steadfast because he was able to be true to the Spirit within him, regardless of the attitudes or circumstances around him.
“And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last.
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.”
In the end, Saul had to pay the piper and follow the music being played within him by the Spirit. Once he was Paul, he was far more complete than Saul could have ever been! His new life was founded on the rock of the Spirit, not the sands of the times.
“For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the Gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Thought for the day: May the music of the Spirit play clearly within me and guide my steps!
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.