Grace to you!
You are probably familiar with this biblical question, “Why are you persecuting me?” It was the question Jesus asked Saul when he was headed to Damascus to bring back, in chains, the followers of Jesus in order to execute them. Jesus appeared to him in a vision and addressed him with the question.
Saul didn’t know whose voice it was and asked who? Jesus replied; “I am Jesus, who you are persecuting.” (Read Acts 9:1-20 for details of the story)
Whenever I read that story, just like many other stories in the bible, it has a new meaning for me.
Saul was from Tarsus. He was a tent maker as well as a smart attorney. He was also very zealous about defending the Law of Moses. Because of his belief, temperament and influence, he took the lead to exterminate the early Church. He was ignorant of the implications of what he was doing.
From his story we know how Jesus looks at the Church, his disciples. They are in him and he is in them.
Guess where this is made so real and profoundly effective? It is at the Eucharist, when we eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus. As the Lord Jesus said, “He who eats my bread and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
One of the witty sayings of Mother Angelica, the Foundress of EWTN, was shared by her friend, von Hildebrand, who used to be Jewish before she became a Catholic. She said, Mother Angelica once joked that she is equally as Jewish as her friend because she has the Jewish blood in her—meaning that she receives the Jewish blood every day in the Holy Eucharist. “We become what we eat.”
On another note, the story of Saul makes me ponder how Jesus would be looking at us when we, as members of his body, tear each other apart. It is sad to see how many believers today are so negative and polarizing.
Sometimes, from within the Church, we wash our dirty linens in public, claiming we are pointing out errors. Certainly, we should correct errors, but doing so with a microphone and more, so as to draw traffic on our online media platforms, is a disgrace to the Body of Christ.
Growing up reading the lives of the saints and falling in love with their exemplary Christian lives, one of the no-noes I learned was to avoid a censorious spirit, the spirit that looks for faults and is quick to criticize. Such spirits persecute Christ instead of building the Church.
May we learn from the story of the conversion of Saul, that we are Christ’s Body.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Friday, Easter Week 3: Act 9:1-20; Jn 6:52-59]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.