Saul is proof that God’s ways are not our ways. How is it that God would pick for one of his chief Apostles a man who imprisoned and murdered the followers of the Christian Way? That had to surprise even, and perhaps especially Saul, whose life was turned completely upside-down. Poor Ananias had to be quaking in his boots to carry out this command of the Lord. But thankfully both Paul and Ananias were obedient to the Lord’s command, and we are the ones who have benefited from that. Not only has the Word of God been passed on through their faithfulness, but we see in their lives that obedience to God’s will, while it may not always make sense, is the way that true disciples live.
And true discipleship is beginning to be an issue in the Bread of Life Discourse from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. We’ve been hearing it all week. Jesus has fed the five thousand, and they continue to clamor after him. Only he’s not giving them bread and fish the last few days. Now he’s challenging them to eat his Flesh and drink his Blood – this is Saint John’s version of the giving of the Eucharist. They aren’t getting it and they’re not going to stick around and hear much more of it – at least many of them are getting ready to leave.
But God’s ways are infinitely richer than our little intelligence and inadequate imagination and faltering faith. God wants so much more for us than we’re ready to ask for – he wants to give us his very self to fill us up and make us whole and bring us to heaven. The question is, will we let him obscure our vision so that we can see clearly (as he did for Saint Paul), or put us in the firing line so that we can really live (as he did for Ananias), or die for us so that we can live with him, as he did for his disciples and for us? Are we ready to have our lives turned upside-down so that we can get back on track?
Because that’s the only way we’re really going to live.