Today’s First Reading is shocking. The level of humility demanded of Saul, the depth of his repentance, the courage shown by the persecuted Christians whose participation God necessitated in order that Saul-turned-Paul’s news commission might come to fruition…it’s all shocking.
The Lord patiently waited on so many ‘yeses’ so that His plan might be permitted to play out.
Shocking, too, is the plot twist that God defers to our free will to follow our misguided self-importance. Can you imagine the torment in a Father’s heart who, seeing Saint Paul’s full potential and the scope of his mission in life, would have to suffer through “Act 1: The Murdering Years.”
God waited. In humility and tender mercy, He waited. He waited for Saul, and, when he arose from his fall, blind and drenched in mud, he ministered to him through His own body, the Church, drawing him into mysterious participation of that same Body.
Saul became Saint Paul. The unthinkable transformation had occurred.
As we read a little further into the day’s readings, we encounter the truly unthinkable transformation: the Eucharist.
Is there any greater stumbling block to the Christian faith than this? That God would humble Himself to become not only a man, not only a slave, but a morsel of unleavened bread, utterly simple in order to meet us in our poverty.
Certainly Saul the murderer to Saint Paul the martyr is quantum leap enough. But for the God of the Universe to die for us and to remain available to us under the form of simple, flat bread?
It is shocking and profound, even more so than a murderous Pharisee preaching the Gospel.
But His love is reckless. And His desire for us is so total, so all-consuming, that He does not hesitate to do this impossible thing.
I long for you to be with Me. I want you to eat Me, to take Me into your very body and assimilate Myself into your self.
My God, it’s too much.
He impossibly fills the cells and fibers of a tiny piece of bread with the love that created the Universe. The love that humbled Himself to become one of us. The love that further humbles Himself to remain one, with us.
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Jesus, give us the courage of Saint Paul that when we encounter You in the Blessed Sacrament, we too may fall at Your feet in recognition of the One Who loves us, Who calls us, and Who will never leave us.
Jenny Uebbing is a freelance writer and editor for Catholic News Agency. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband Dave and their small army of toddlers. You can find out more about her faith, thoughts on bioethics, and potty training failures here.