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St. Paul and the Antithesis

The Conversion of St. Paul, by Caravaggio, 1601


Today, the Conversion of St Paul is celebrated in many parts of the Christian church. Last year we purchased a print of this event painted by Caravaggio, painted in 1601. It hangs downstairs in the hall outside the classrooms. I love it because the theme is glorious and the contrast is stark. This contrast highlights the antithesis between darkness and light, the City of Man that Paul turned away from and the City of God that he turned toward.

 Since the beginning, when Satan fell and Adam listened to him, there has been an antithesis between the seed of the Serpent and the Seed of women. That division will remain until the nations are converted to Jesus Christ. Caravaggio’s St Paul reminds us daily that we follow the new Adam, Jesus Christ. We have turned from darkness and embrace the light of the Gospel.

That antithesis manifests itself in everything. When we wake up, we thank the Lord for another day, we do not thank ourselves. When we sing in chapel we praise the Creator, confess our sins, and edify one another in hymns, psalms and spiritual songs. When we study history we study the very character of God and learn from the story he is telling. And when we study nature, we are learning about Him through His spoken world. Everything around us speaks to us of Him, because everything was spoken into existence by Him.

Created in the image of God, we preach the good news to each other by dying to ourselves and putting others first. We preach the gospel by speaking a kind word, rather than tearing down, and by forgiving one another as He has forgiven us for Christ’s sake.

So let’s use this day to renew our commitment to living as a converted people, living in the light.

Collect: O God, who taught the whole world through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Paul, draw us, we pray, nearer to you through the example of him whose conversion we celebrate today, and so make us witnesses to your truth in the world. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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