Psalm 117:1bc, 2
Jesus is finishing his discourse in the synagogue in Capernaum. He has just alluded to the great truth of the Eucharist and, in response, the crowds begin to quarrel among themselves since they don’t understand how Jesus can give them his Flesh to eat. Jesus responds to their question by reiterating three things.
First, he says to the crowds that unless they eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, they will not have life. This is because Jesus’ Flesh and Blood bestow eternal life on those who partake of them. Second, when we eat the Flesh of Christ and drink his Blood, we enter into communion with him: Jesus remains in us and we remain in Jesus. “Life in Christ has its foundation in the Eucharistic banquet” (CCC, 1391). Communion with the Flesh of the risen Christ “preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism” (CCC, 1392). Third, Jesus is able to give eternal life to us because he has received life from the Father. John alludes to this in his prologue: “In him was life and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4); Jesus himself proclaims to his Apostles that he is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). The life we are called to share in, through Jesus Christ, is divine life.
Through the Eucharist we are united to Christ and are united in one body, the Church. As Communion, the Eucharist “renews, strengthens, and deepens this incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism” (CCC, 1396). These truths are implied in the first reading. Saul is persecuting the early Church, called the Way, yet Jesus does not ask him, “Why are you persecuting my followers?”, but rather: “Why are you persecuting me?”.
The Church is truly the Mystical Body of Christ. Jesus proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours. “In the Body of Christ, the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification” (CCC, 790). The unity of the Body of Christ does not take away the diversity of its members. Christ is the head of the body, the Church. The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, implies their distinction and this is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her” (Ephesians 5:25-26). He has joined the Church with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body (Ephesians 5:29). “Christ purified her by his blood and made her the fruitful mother of all God’s children” (CCC, 808).
Saul is called to form part of that Body. Saul is passionate by temperament, learned in Sacred Scripture, and a man of conviction. God wants all these talents to be placed at the service of the Gospel. Saul is an instrument chosen by God and will carry the name of the Lord to the Gentiles and to the children of Israel. Saul will “open the eyes of the people so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may obtain forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been consecrated by faith” (Acts 26:18).
Saul is baptized by Ananias. This is his incorporation into the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. Saul will suffer for the name of Jesus: he is stoned, beaten and imprisoned on account of the Gospel. He will ultimately give his life for Christ through martyrdom. He encountered the risen Christ and now shares in Christ’s resurrection. A few days after his baptism, Saul began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the grace of Christ at work, Saul used to go from synagogue to synagogue persecuting the Body of Christ, now he goes from synagogue to synagogue building up the Body of Christ.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at email@example.com.