3rd Friday of Easter, April 28, 2023
Acts 9:1-20; Ps 117:1-2; Jn 6:52-59
Today we once again hear the story of St. Paul’s conversion. Dramatic and beautiful all on its own. Wouldn’t we all want a powerful conversion like that? I am not sure I would want to get knocked down and lose my sight. Just to have the encounter with Jesus would be enough excitement for me! However, many of us do not experience that kind of a conversion. For many of us, it either started as a child at our baptism, or some significant event in our life that drew us back to God. Sometimes it is a slow process, taking years for our eyes to be opened. And, I can imagine, some are still wondering if they will ever have a St. Paul-like experience.
I had not thought about it much in the past, but when I read the story again, I thought of Ananias. What was Ananias thinking during all of this? He was a strong man of God, and dutifully answered, “Here I am, Lord” when called. But I sense that he also had a moment of doubt. Seriously God? This man, Saul, is evil! He is persecuting and doing awful things to Jesus’ followers. And you are asking me to go see him? But God persisted and Ananias obeyed. When Ananias went to see Saul, he made it very clear who sent him and what was to happen. Ananias was still sheltering himself from the situation, but also making it very clear who sent him there. We can be that way sometimes. We tend to hide behind our faith a little and say, “God told me to do this,” or “God said this…” and then we lack the boldness to tell the rest of the story. We seem to be waiting for the Saul experience on a road somewhere to bring our faith out of the shadows.
But we can be bold. And we do not need that roadside knocking-down shakeup that Paul needed. All we need to do is proclaim the truth and live our lives as Jesus has guided us. It takes strength to do that, and what better place to get that strength than from the Eucharist? Jesus tells us today that unless you eat of His flesh, and drink of His blood, you will not have life within you. As crazy as it sounds, it is the only way for us to be in union with Jesus. Do you want a roadside Paul experience? Come to Mass, praise, and worship God, and receive the Eucharist.
Sr. Maria Miguel Wright, O.P. from the National Eucharistic Revival blog writes: “There is no better life-changing event than receiving Jesus. The love of God for us, and our love in response, is an even deeper reality. At every Mass, we have the opportunity to sacramentally receive Jesus Christ into our bodies. We have looked on His face and heard His voice in the Scriptures. The more we look on Him, spend time with Him, and receive Him into our very being, the more we are transformed into His image and see His real presence in our lives. His love has quite literally united us to Him, and when we realize this, we experience joy, gratitude, and longing for the one who loves us.”
What a beautiful way to express our personal conversion while at Mass. And that life you receive, will be with you forever. Just be ready to be knocked off your horse when you receive Jesus.