We briefly touched on the subject of Saul's conversion yesterday. Today we read the story of that conversion. Now Saul was not a good man. He struck fear in the hearts of those familiar with him. He spent his days seeking out anyone who had anything to do with Jesus and hauling them off to jail. This day was no different. Only now, Saul needed to go to other towns in search of more followers of Jesus. So he and a few cohorts set out for Damascus. Surely in a large city as this, there would be that many more people. As they are walking, Saul is suddenly blinded by a bright light and he hears a voice calling to him "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"(v4). The voice is none other than that of Jesus. Sometimes you just need to take matters into your own hands to fix a problem, and this is exactly what Jesus is doing. He blinds Saul, forcing him to rely on his friends to get him to Damascus. When they finally reach the city, Jesus calls on Ananias to go to Saul and see to his conversion. Jesus will work through Ananias in order to achieve this. Ananias isn't so sure of this. He knows how awful Saul is and is doubtful that he can be converted. But Jesus doesn't care. He knows He can save this man and bring him into the fold. So Ananias sets out on his task. Saul is so overwhelmed by it all that he is left no choice but to believe that this had been the work of Jesus. He is baptised and healed. Chalk another one up for "Team Jesus"!
The study guide in my bible gives the best lesson on this story, so I will share it with you.
If Saul can be converted then surely God can use anything to advance the Divine Plan. Saul had been so diligent and unrelenting in his attack on Jesus' followers that his transformation from being an enemy and persecutor of the Gospel to being one of its most successful advocates is truly remarkable. Each version of this story serves to demonstrate Saul's legitimate role as teacher of the Gospel. He now has the authority to endorse such things as preaching to the Gentiles and excusing non-Jewish Christians from observance of the Jewish Law.
With our reading in John, we are getting to the end of the Bread of Life discourse. The Jews don't understand that eating Jesus' flesh and drinking His blood isn't to be taken in the literal sense. It is symbolic. Just like when we take Holy Communion in church. The wine and the Eucharist are the symbolic gestures we use to remind us of what Jesus did for us on the cross. This way, we are partaking in what Jesus has offered to us so that we may be one with Him.
It is truly amazing the ways that Jesus can use situations and people for good. It shows that no matter how bad things get, He can turn it around and use it for something good. We can never fall so far from His grace that we can't be rescued. We just need to be open to it. Once that healing takes place, we are truly transformed in His love. Show how Jesus has transformed you by always being a nice human. 😇
Father Bill's reflection on today's readings: https://youtu.be/aZ9l2lGxKgU
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