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I Am The Bread Of Life

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I Am The Bread Of Life

Saul was a student of Gamaliel. However, unlike his teacher who appeared patient with the new enterprise arising from conversion into following Jesus, Saul was quick to action. He was present at Stephen’s death and those who stoned Stephen also made witness of him. He opposed the Gospel and persecuted Christians but was converted when Jesus Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus.

In Acts 9:3-6, it is written that as Saul journeyed towards Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice that said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” and the voice replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

Rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” This was the beginning of his conversion. Paul’s encounter with the person of Christ radically changed his life and opened his eyes to the truth of the Gospel.

Pope Francis, in his homily on the conversion of Saint Paul on the close of the week for Christian unity in January 2016, says, “At this moment, Paul understands that there is a real and transcendent union between the eternally living Christ and his followers: Jesus lives and is present in them, and they live in him.

The vocation to be an apostle is founded not on the human merits of Paul, who considers himself “unfit” and “unworthy,” but on the infinite goodness of God, who chose him and entrusted the ministry to him.”

From the picture we have from Caravaggio’s painting, it seems to be a deeply personal experience as the light from heaven flashes on his face as he falls to earth in the shadow of the speed and strength of the horse.

The light from heaven flashed around him while riding the horse and he became blinded for three days. By implication, Christ the bridegroom who rode on a donkey took him off his high horse. Jesus, the light of the world, exposed the hidden agenda of the elders of the people.

The warrant was destroyed by the creator of all that is seen and unseen. The God of the living and the dead changed him into a new person. He would have died falling under the horse’s hoof, but by grace, he was saved and received his sight three days later to remind him of the death and Resurrection of Christ and the story of Jonah.

In other words, the persecutor became the preacher; the stubborn Pharisee turned into a slave for Christ; the Jew went out to Gentiles. A threat turned promoter. Thus, conversion is truly the heart of the Christian experience.

He was determined to do something else, but now his determination is in defense of the Christian Way. He is willing to face imprisonment, suffering, and even death to help spread the Word and proclaim the Good News to all creation.

Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus is also a reminder that conversion is not necessarily confined to sinners. Even the righteous should listen to Jesus’ call for repentance and rethink their convictions.

A Christian is necessarily “on the road.” St. Paul (Saul) was guilty of persecuting God’s people, and we could be doing the same. As such, the question we should ask ourselves is how we have addressed God’s church, His body.

If we have been the cause of disunity within God’s church, Christ identifies himself with His Bride – the Church, and as such, are we persecuting Christ? If we are the ones carrying out violence and injustice in the land, all in the name of religion, are we persecuting Christ?

Am I willing to undergo whatever trials might be ahead of me as a sign of my conversion of heart to Jesus? How can I give witness to my dedication to the cause of the Lord Jesus? What can I do to help others who are faced with a decision about giving their lives to the Lord Jesus, even at the cost of rejection and persecution?

St. Paul also bears witness to a similar understanding of what happened on the road to Damascus in the First Letter to Timothy. He writes, “I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by appointing me to his service.

Though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him, I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1:12-14).

Christ became the center and key to Paul’s theology, for Paul was saved by the risen Christ. Paul preached Christ crucified and risen. St. Paul enumerates throughout his Letters the spiritual blessings that occur with conversion to Jesus Christ our Lord.

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God (1 Cor.1: 17-18).

The Lord Jesus is still urging us today to believe in him and trust him. He is the bread of life. May He shed his peaceful light from heaven to remove the uncertainties and darkness of this world. May the voice from heaven turn around the voices of distraction. May God remove the scales from our eyes and help us see the glory of the Lord.

Fr Joseph Osho

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