Sometimes, I think, we often wonder what God has in mind. Sometimes he picks us, or someone else, for something that just doesn’t seem like it would work. And then it works out amazingly! God sure knows us better than we know ourselves!
Saul is proof that God’s ways are not our ways. I mean, why would God would pick for one of his chief Apostles a man who imprisoned and murdered the followers of the Christian Way? Because that was what Saul was up to. He was so zealous, so devoted to the Jewish religion, that he saw the Christians as a threat to everything they believed in. So he was on the lookout for anyone who preached the Gospel or called themselves Christian, and would arrest them and take them off to prison.
So the call for him to become an Apostle 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. He knew about Saul and what he was doing, and he wanted nothing to do with him. When he had a vision of God calling him to go and lay hands on Saul so that he might regain his sight, Ananias is confused. He says, “But Ananias replied,
“Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.”
But thankfully both Saul and Ananias were obedient to the Lord’s command, and we are the ones who have benefited from that. Saul was renamed Saint Paul, and his writings have taught us so much about the Gospel and what Jesus calls his disciples to do. 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 with a miracle, and they continue to follow after him, hoping to see something else amazing. Only he’s not giving them bread and fish this time. Now he’s challenging them to eat his Flesh and drink his Blood – he’s teaching them about the Eucharist. But they aren’t getting it and they’re not going to stick around and hear much more of it – many of them are getting ready to leave.
But God’s ways are infinitely bigger and more wonderful than our are. His thoughts are so much more merciful and amazing than ours are. 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 blind us 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 let him die for us so that we can live with him, as he did for his disciples? 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. That’s the only way we’re really going to see.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.