The First Reading shows us Saul, a man who thought he knew the truth and was uncompromising of what he believed, such that he went to the high priest to ask for letters to the synagogues at Damascus to arrest those who belonged to the Way and bring them to Jerusalem. Saul thought what he believed was the truth, until, the Truth, Jesus, confronted him and revealed himself as the One Saul persecutes. With this, Jesus identifies himself with those who belonged to the Way. After this encounter with Jesus, Saul was struck blind and set to fast, not eating nor drinking for three day. Ananias, one of those who belonged to the Way, came and prayed over Saul who was healed immediately and was baptized. Saul thought he knew the truth until Jesus revealed himself to him. After this revelation, Saul had a conversion and was with the disciples in Damascus and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying “Jesus is the Son of God”.
The story of Saul’s conversion shows that our understanding of God is imperfect and it takes God to reveal himself for us to know and understand him. We see this in the Gospel where Jesus kept telling his disciples unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Jesus speaks of eating his flesh and drinking his blood four times in the Gospel for today. Jesus was not joking when he said this. Neither did he mean this figuratively. He was talking of eating his flesh and drinking his blood.
How do we know this? The people in the synagogue asked How can this man give us his flesh to eat? The people took what Jesus said literally. If Jesus meant this symbolically, he would have corrected them. But Jesus did not. Instead, he tells them: unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. They have to eat his flesh and drink his blood to have life.
Then Jesus spoke of the bread your ancestors ate and they died. Jesus was talking of the physical bread made from the manna that the ancestors literally ate. Then Jesus said but the one who eats this bread will live forever.
In our faith, as Saul showed, what matters is not how or why God does things, but who Jesus is and what Jesus said. Saul know those who belonged to the Way believed Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. But he could not understand why? He thought those who belonged to the Way were mistaken believing this. Which is why he set out to stop this new movement. But when Jesus appeared to him, Saul realized, Jesus is the Son of God.
Those who heard Jesus knew what Jesus meant. But could not understand how they are to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus. The question is not how we are to eat it. What matters is Jesus said so, therefore, it is so. Jesus said this is the bread that came down from heaven. The verb is past tense: came. Jesus refers to himself here. But then he said, the one who eats this bread (Jesus himself) will live forever. The tense here is present (eats). Jesus came down in the past. But he wants us to eat him in the present. We are to consume him, just as he said earlier: whoever eats me will live because of me. Jesus wants us to eat him literally! This is done in Holy Communion because what we receive is the true Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.
Lord, help me to believe what you say and let me not be hindered by asking how. Instead, let me ask what you are saying and let me believe in your Word.