Psalms 117:1, 2
On first sight, the two readings today appear to have very little in common. The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, recounts the story of Saulís conversion. He was an ardent persecutor of Jesusí followers. He was a man whose name and reputation preceded him and struck fear in all those who were committed to ďThe Way.Ē And yet, the risen Christ chose this sinful man to be his ďinstrumentĒ in carrying his name ďbefore the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.Ē This is the greatest ďconversionĒ account in the Scriptures. The power of Christ to transform a heart of stone into total service and discipleship is without limitations. When I think of Saulís sins, and Jesusí power to transform his heart of stone, I feel a great sense of hope and gratitude when I reflect on my own sins and limitations, where I fall short in being a true disciple. And yet, a light from heaven, a prophetic voice, and a clear, detailed account of what to do and how to do it sparked Saulís conversion. When reflecting on the details of Saulís conversion, in a sense, Paul had it easy. It was very clear to Paul who was calling him, what he was calling him to do, and how he was to accomplish his mission. In the 21st century, do we as Christians have that same clarity of calling and direction to transform our lives and become Christís disciples? Do we experience the light, voice, and clear direction that Saul experienced that transformed his very identity?
These questions shed light on the relationship between the first
and second readings. In Johnís Gospel, we read a section from a long
discourse on Jesus as the bread of life. This discourse, as well
as the other scriptural passages that testify to Jesusí paschal mystery,
the breaking of his body and shedding of his blood that bring us eternal
life, are the foundations for the Eucharistic celebration. While
most of us do not experience the light, voice, and clear direction that
Saul experienced, we have the light, voice, and clear direction that are
provided by participating in the Eucharist. The Eucharist invites
us to transform ourselves, as did Saul, from sinners to Christís disciples.
In and through our sharing and participating in the Eucharist, we share
in Saulís conversion and are given the directions we need to follow Christ.
While these directions may not be as specific and clear as the ones that
Saul received, they invite us to listen and embark on the journey of discipleship
in love, fidelity, and commitment. This is the good news of the Easter
season and the good news that provides us hope and creates a sense of profound
gratitude for Godís gift of his Son and what that means for us as Godís
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