Yesterday and today, I have had to listen to Mass on the radio on the way to work. It has really ticked me off because I’ve found that I truly enjoy going to weekday Mass. It has quickly become a part of my routine. Life sometimes brings other priorities, though, and so today I am yet again listening instead of partaking.
Things happen for a reason, as they always do, and I realize that I’m probably meant to hear the homily on the radio this morning.
Today is the celebration of the conversion of St Paul. Paul was quite a different man before his conversion and while he was still named Saul. A Pharisee, Saul was vehemently opposed to the teachings of the followers of Christ and he persecuted these people on a regular basis.
One day while Paul was on his way to Damascus to arrest some Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem, a bright light shone in the sky; Paul fell off his horse and onto his knees. He found himself talking to none other than the Jesus he had been denouncing. At that moment, Paul had a conversion of heart. And, of course, a name change.
Then, amazingly enough, God chose Paul as a disciple to guide Christians. Talk about irony. The people he once persecuted he ended up guiding. This is just the wacky, miraculous kind of stuff that happens with religion.
During the homily, the priest talks about a woman named Patricia Sandoval. Her story is pretty incredible, and you can read about it in more detail here. Let’s just say that she had done a lot of things she regretted, but she could not pull herself out of the abyss and stop. At one point, homeless and addicted to drugs, she sat on the sidewalk sobbing, and then — I kid you not — a woman walked up to her, put her arms around her and said, “Jesus told me to tell you He loves you.” The woman was a waitress who had seen Patricia crying across the street and felt a calling to go over to her. Patricia realized this was her second chance. She eventually got off drugs, reconciled with her family, and now dedicates her life inspiring others to choose life.
The point of these two stories is quite profound. You could be following a very bad path; you could feel that there is no redemption for you. But God always gives you another chance. And another. Even if you haven’t asked for it, He’s going to give it to you anyway. Because you need it.
I’ve done some pretty jerky things in my life, but I think I have been given another chance. Actually, I’ve probably been given about 20 chances. And I suppose God will give me 20 more if He has to. Hopefully, I won’t need them, but it’s good to know that they’re there.