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Friday, January 3, 2014

My "A-ha" Moment

What is an "a-ha" moment? I know you've at least heard of them. Televangelists show them frequently. You've seen them in movies, for example the river scene in O Brother, Where Art Thou? 

Probably the most striking a-ha moment occurred to St. Paul (Acts of the Apostles, 9:3-20):

On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" He said, "Who are you, sir?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do." The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; 3 so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank. There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." He answered, "Here I am, Lord." The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying, and (in a vision) he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay (his) hands on him, that he may regain his sight." But Ananias replied, "Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones 4 in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name." But the Lord said to him, "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 my name." So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, "Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit." Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength. 5 He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus, and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 6
Okay, so mine wasn't that dramatic. It happened about 30 years ago, and I still remember the feeling. I was attending Mass where my future wife was singing with the parish folk group. At one point in the Mass, I think it was the singing of 'Holy, Holy, Holy', I closed my eyes and sung. When the song ended, I remained standing, oblivious to the fact that the rest of the congregation had knelt. I don't know how long I stood, my eyes closed, feeling the power of the song. I remember opening my eyes, seeing everyone kneeling, and seeing a look of concern? embarrassment? on my girlfriend's face. She motioned me to kneel, which I did, and the I continued praying at the Mass, but feeling uplifted. This marked the turning point in my search for Jesus. I was on my way.