GO OUT TO THE WHOLE WORLD, PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS
(Friday, May 10 2019)
The conversion of St. Paul is a dramatic story and it is an account of what may be the most significant religious experience in the entirety of human history. St. Paul met a great power that changed the history of humanity on his way to Damascus and he surrendered to His control. “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
This is the point at which Saul becomes Paul! This is the point at which a transformation begins, wherein the man who had been the arch-enemy of the church up to that point – a man who had been arresting and imprisoning the early Christians – turns and becomes the church’s most articulate spokesman!
The same person who derived joy in persecuting the believers, putting them into prison, suppressing them from preaching the crucified Christ is the same person that was made to be the mouthpiece of the same Church he wanted to destroy. God arrested him and made him a veritable instrument that will join the league of those mandated to preach the Good News to all creatures. The conversion of St. Paul was indeed a big blessing for the spreading of the Faith during the time of the early Christians and also a great blessing to us because it is through this conversion that St. Paul was divinely commissioned to be the apostle of the Gentile world which he fought tirelessly to actualize before the end of his missionary career.
It was Paul who pushed the Christian message beyond the geographical boundaries of Israel – becoming the “Apostle to the Gentiles”. Certainly no figure apart from Christ Himself has so influenced the growth and development of the Church in history as has St Paul, and his influence continues to be felt around the world today and will no doubt continue until the church is no more, and it all begins here – on the road to Damascus, where Paul encounters Jesus! Today’s Gospel is the last in a series of readings from John, Chapter 6, what is called the Bread of Life discourse. Jesus has talked about how the food He gives is not just physical food, but food that does not perish; how it is the Bread of life, and that those who eat this Bread will be raised on the last day. Today Jesus perhaps gives the hardest part of the teaching on the Eucharist, this Bread of life is His Flesh and His Blood; we are to eat of it, if we are to have eternal life with Him. Recall that Jesus said in yesterday’s gospel, “I am the living Bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this Bread will live forever; and the Bread that I will give for the life of the world is my Flesh” (Jn 6:51). In today’s gospel, His audience disputed, “How can this man give us His Flesh to eat?” And Jesus emphatically responded, Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you.
Those who eat my Flesh and drink my Blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my Flesh is true food and my Blood is true drink. Those who eat my Flesh and drink my Blood abide in me, and I in them. I believe we still remember the consequence of not abiding in Jesus: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned (Jn 15:4, 6). It is evident how grievous is the consequence of not eating the Body and drinking the Blood of Christ. Nevertheless, those who eat and drink in an unworthy manner are guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord as St. Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians (1Cor 11:27). We are all therefore called to eat and drink, but worthily.
Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace to submit to you so that you can use me as a channel to win souls into your kingdom. Amen.