Reflection for Friday, May 4, 2001: 3rd week in Easter.

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Salzman, Todd
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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 Saul's conversion. He was an ardent persecutor of Jesus' followers. He was a man whose name and reputation preceded him and struck fear in all those who were committed to "The Way." And yet, the risen Christ chose this sinful man to be his "instrument" in carrying his name "before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel." This is the greatest "conversion" 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 Saul's sins, and Jesus' 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 Saul's conversion. When reflecting on the details of Saul's 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 Christ's 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 John's 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 Jesus' 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 Christ's disciples. In and through our sharing and participating in the Eucharist, we share in Saul's 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 God's gift of his Son and what that means for us as God's children.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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