Can you picture Ananias, a Christian, hearing from God that he is to go and meet Saul, the persecutor of the Christians, and lay his hands on him, commissioning him to preach to the Gentiles? Or how about the Jewish people of Jesus’ time listening to Jesus say that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have eternal life? I think about these two situations, ones we encounter in today’s readings from Acts (Acts 9:1-20) and John’s gospel (John 6:52-59), respectively, and am just incredulous. (The readings can be found at here.) Imagine the faith in God that it must have taken for Ananias just to go to the house in which Saul was staying and the “suspension” of all prior belief that it would have required for the Jewish people hearing Jesus to not just walk away (some probably did), saying that Jesus was crazy. And yet, we have the benefit of knowing, through the hindsight of two thousand years, that Ananias’ faith and action set one of the greatest apostles and evangelists, Saul, or Paul as we now know him, on his way. We also believe, with the grace that comes with two thousand years of teaching and tradition, that Jesus has indeed given us his body and blood, his very self and life, in order that we might have eternal life. Are there things that we hear now, however, that cause us to stop in our tracks and say “God, do you really mean that?” As a society, the current pandemic, with all of its challenges, may be one of those things for us. Perhaps there are situations in our personal lives, too, that make us pause and search around for confirmation or guidance…or faith. Let’s pray that we can face these times of uncertainty, of questioning with the knowledge that God is on our side, reassuring us that indeed we are loved into belief and action.
Here's the link to a musical setting of St. Ignatius’ Suscipe prayer, Take Lord, Receive, by John Foley, SJ: