3rd Week of Easter, Friday, April 23
Acts 9:1-20 / John 6:52-59
Jesus speaks about his body and blood; "My flesh is true food; my body is true drink. "
Imagine you are Jesus. You want to show people in a dramatic way that you want to be united with them. At the same time, you want to give people an opportunity to show that they also want to be united with you. How could you achieve both goals? We find the answer in today's gospel. Jesus gives himself to us in the form of food.
The reason Jesus does this is that food and the person who eats it become one. Thus, by giving himself to us as food, Jesus shows his desire to become one with us. At the same time, he gives us a way to show our desire to become one with him: by receiving him in our heart and body in the form of food.
Do we see our reception of the Eucharist as an expression of our desire to be one with Jesus? "I pray . . . that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us." John
“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” This is the question of Jesus the Lord when he lets Saul, the persecutor, encounter him on the way to Damascus. Jesus identifies himself with his persecuted disciples. From that moment on, Saul will serve the Lord, whose life he will live. It is an encounter that radically changed Saul into Paul.
The Lord speaks to us today: “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me and I live in them.” This will be our encounter with Christ. May this encounter be so deep that it changes us.
We may have heard of this saying: "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." This is expressed often in the teaching-learning process. When we are told of how to do things, we will forget sooner if not later. When we are taught how to do things, we may remember but again our memory will fail us.
But when we have to experience how it is to be done, when we get a hands-on experience, we will learn and what we have learnt from a hands-on experience, that will not be easily forgotten.
In the 1st reading, we heard that the early Christians were called the "followers of the Way". It was certainly not an easy way to follow as they were persecuted along the way, with Saul being one of the chief persecutors. But along the way to Damascus, something happened to him. He had a vision from the Lord but he ended up not being able to see even though his eyes were wide opened. At the same time, something was also happening to Ananias, one of disciples. He too had a vision from the Lord, but when he was told what to do, he probably wished that he didn't have that vision. As he was told by the Lord to go and pray for Saul and to give him back his sight, Ananias began to give reasons as to why it was not safe to go to Saul.
He was probably thinking that if Saul got back his sight and could see that he was a disciple of the Way, then that would be the end of the road, or end of the way for him. But the Lord said this to Ananias: You must go all the same. I myself will show him how much he himself must suffer for my name. So, Ananias had to go all the way. But it was a learning process as the Lord taught him how to walk the Way of the Lord. It involved an experience, but it was one that Ananias would not forget.
It was an experience of the power of the Lord's love in converting a persecutor of the Way into a proclaimer of the Way. In the gospel, Jesus tells us that when we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we live in Him and He in us. The flesh that Jesus wants to give us is His heart and the blood that He pours into our hearts is the food and drink that gives us the strength to follow His Way.
His Way is certainly not an easy way. It may mean that the Lord is sending us to face up to those difficult people who could also be making life difficult for us.
But the Lord will show us how He will convert those people to walk His way. But we must get involved in order to experience the power of the Lord's love, as Ananias did in Saul's case.
May the Lord give us courageous hearts to see His Way, to learn His Way and to walk His Way, and not to walk away.
Our living and loving God, how could we know the depth of your love, if your Son had not become flesh of our flesh and blood of our blood? How could we ever have the courage to live for one another and if necessary, to die, if he had not given up his body and shed his blood for us? Thank you for letting him stay in the Eucharist with us and making himself our daily bread. Let this bread be the food that empowers us, to live and die as he did, for one another and for you, our living God, forever and ever. Amen.