We have all read the story of Saul’s conversion from murderous enemy of Christ’s people to legendary evangelist for God. While Paul did not become this legend as soon as he was knocked off his horse, that fall began the process that took him to that wonderful role in the history of our Faith. Despite that process, however, we can certainly identify at least five direct lessons from that fall itself.
1. Our Lord’s Divine Mercy often comes when we are at our worst, and at our lowest point
Saul was a nightmare for the early Christians, and his rage against them seemed to have no limit. We should recall that he was present at the stoning of Stephen. Despite this, God waited until Saul seemed hell bent to destroy the Christians once and for all to knock him off his high horse. Similarly, Christ will patiently offer us His Divine Mercy precisely when we least seem likely to deserve or even believe that we deserve it. Just recall the father and the prodigal son.
2. Our Lord’s Intervention in our lives will often be totally unexpected
God’s standards, measures, and time tables have no resemblance to our own, so it makes sense that His interventions in our lives would similarly bear no reflection to our expectations. Saul is the last person which the early Christians would have expected to become their most passionate advocate, yet that is exactly what God changed Saul to become. Faith is not expecting to fully understand God’s goodness, and patience is having the faith to wait for it.
3. Our Lord’s Presence in our lives is most often found outside a church
While it is critical that we go to Mass and refresh our souls listening to God’s Word and nourishing ourselves in Christ’s Body and Blood, most of our application of Christ’s teaching will occur in the real world outside of the church itself. Saul was knocked off his horse on the road to Damascus, not even at his destination, much less in any house of worship there.
Our Lord’s house is our service station, where we refuel our Faith, but our mission in Our Lord’s service will most likely be on the road, where we apply that Faith to help others on their path.
4. We all have a Damascus Horse
Saul was riding a horse on his way to fighting against God. He could have been using that same horse to help God, but he had chosen to use it for precisely the opposite. Given that, God was forced to knock Saul off his high horse in order to humble him in preparation for his great mission of serving God’s plan.
We each have a horse that can often take us away from God. That horse could be pride, arrogance, selfishness, money, power, fame, the flesh, or anything else that can take us away from our mission of serving God. Will we get down from that horse ourselves, or will we wait for God to knock us off?
The expression “get off your high horse” comes to mind. This expression usually means stepping down from one’s arrogance, selfishness, and self-obsession, all of which can certainly take us away from God. We know that, in our age, “high” can also mean being spaced out, drunk, or intoxicated. That same word can also be used to mean feeling superior than others.
To the extent that we feel better than others and therefore less in need of help from God, the more likely we will indeed by drunk or intoxicated with the lie that we do not need God, or that we can determine our own best morality level without consulting God’s Word and Christ’s teaching.
5. Faith and Humility overcome The Five Senses
Paul never walked with Christ. He was not one of the originally chosen, yet his great faith and humility allowed him to become as great, if not greater, than many of those who walked with Our Lord. God comes into our lives, and we allow God in our lives, in no proportion to what we believe, see, hear, touch, or taste. The five senses, and all of the arrogant self-assertions which follow them, are mere dust in the way of humility and faith. Paul was blind for a while after being knocked off his horse by God. We are often blind for much longer than a while on our trip to our own Damascus.