In the liturgical calendar, today is “Friday of the Third Week of Eastertime.” But some of us feel a pleasant shiver to see that it’s a “Friday the 13th,” that calendar combination that some believe means bad luck. To notice, to know that some people thought it ominous that the month’s thirteenth day happened to be a Friday, was just part of the culture in which I grew up. I’ve never taken the superstition seriously, but some do – at least Wikipedia says so, and gives possible origins in Norse mythology and the persecution of the Knights Templar in 1307. Somehow I had heard that the bad reputation of the date had a Christian origin, mixing the 13 people at the Last Supper with Good Friday and the Crucifixion – wouldn’t you think those reasons would make “Friday the 13th” a day of very good luck? But superstitions are unreasonable. My guess is that we all like seeing any day as “special” in some way, whether lucky or unlucky.
Meanwhile, our liturgical readings for today do remind us that we are very, very lucky to have faith in Jesus Christ, our Savior. In the first reading we have the dramatic narrative of the conversion of Paul. This is surely good luck for the rest of us. God’s Providence is evident in selecting this energetic and dedicated antagonist to Jesus to receive the gift of Christian faith and to become a most special apostle for the whole world. And I’m noticing how Ananias is both reasonably fearful and unreasonably faithful – and lucky, too, to hear God’s will and to carry it out.
Then today’s Gospel from the book of John reminds us that faith is a gift and we are lucky to receive it. We hear that Jesus said, for example, “Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him.” The Gospel language, “Eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood,” poses a problem for friendly non-believers and even provides ammunition for hostile ones. Non-belief ranges from the extremes of scandal (“cannibalism”) to denial (“He didn’t really say that”). But for those who believe, an abundance of Christian teaching and tradition can guide us to interpret, live by and rejoice in these words.
Although I have to leave the complexities of the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist to the theologians, I can understand and believe that Jesus promises to share his life with us in a real way, in this real world. We are lucky indeed! And so, we are called to spread, not an empty superstition, but the Good News of eternal life. So today, this lucky day, let me sing today’s Psalm refrain, and in my own way, “tell the Good News.”