.- Before reciting the Angelus at noon, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, which the Church celebrates today. The Pope stressed that Paul’s meeting with the Risen Christ "radically changed" the saint’s life.
"On the way to Damascus what happened to Paul is what Jesus calls for in today’s Gospel," the Pontiff said. "Saul converted because, thanks to divine light, he believed in the Gospel."
"This is his and our conversion: believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus and opening ourselves to the light of divine grace," he continued. "In that moment Saul understood that his salvation did not depend on good deeds performed in accordance with the Law, but in the fact that Jesus also died for him, the persecutor, and had risen."
Pope Benedict explained that converting means that Jesus has given himself up for each one of us. The Pope noted, "By putting my trust in the power of Jesus’ remission and letting myself be taken by His hand, I can escape the quick sands of pride and sin, lies and sadness, selfishness and false security, to find out and live the richness of his love."
"We Christians have not yet achieved the goal of full unity," Pope Benedict added, "but if we allow ourselves to be continuously converted by the Lord Jesus we shall certainly get there."
At the end of the Angelus, the Holy Father mentioned the 56th World Leprosy Day.
"I am happy," said the Pontiff, "that the United Nations, in a recent statement by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has urged states to protect people living with leprosy and their families. For my part, I can assure them that they are in my prayers, and I encourage once more all those who are fighting by their side for their complete recovery and social integration."
Pope Benedict also extended his best wishes for the Chinese New: "The peoples of the various countries of East Asia are preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year. To them I express my Best Wishes that they may experience this celebration in joy. Joy is the expression of when we are in harmony with ourselves. And this can only come when we are in harmony with God and his creation. May joy always be alive in the hearts of all the citizens of these nations, so dear to me; may it shine around the world!"