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Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Friday of the Third Week of Easter

Reading 1 (Acts 9:1-20):

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,
went to the high priest and asked him
for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that,
if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,
he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.
On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus,
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
He said, "Who are you, sir?"
The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do."
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless,
for they heard the voice but could see no one.
Saul got up from the ground,
but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;
so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.
There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias,
and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias."
He answered, "Here I am, Lord."
The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight
and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul.
He is there praying,
and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias
come in and lay his hands on him,
that he may regain his sight."
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 the Lord said to him,
"Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine
to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel,
and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name."
So Ananias went and entered the house;
laying his hands on him, he said,
"Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me,
Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came,
that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes
and he regained his sight.
He got up and was baptized,
and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.
He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus,
and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,
that he is the Son of God.

Gospel (Jn 6:52-59):


The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."
These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: Nothing is impossible to God.

             

            People used to apply what they think to God. They think that God is like them; if they can’t do something, God also can’t do it. They forget that God isn’t only different but also exceeds all human beings; He can accomplish all what He wills, and nothing is impossible to Him. The prophet Isaiah reminded people to always remember this point: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts” (Isa 55:9).

            Today readings open our eyes to see the wonderful works which God achieved. In the first reading, God changed Saul from a strict Pharisees and eagerly persecute Christians to an eager preacher of the Good News to the point that he even accepted death to witness for Christ. This is impossible for man, but not for God. In the Gospel, Jesus declared, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: God created an opportunity for Saul to repent.

1.1/ The conflict between God and Saul:

            (1) Saul’s will: He went to Damascus to seize the believers who followed the new religion to torture them, as the Acts reported: “Now Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priestand asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.”

            (2) God’s will: He doesn’t hate Paul to the point to destroy him as people used to do; but He wants to use his eagerness to bring the Good News to the Gentiles. So, “on his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" He said, "Who are you, sir?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do."”

            “The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.” This event was repeated three times in the Acts because it is the important event, not only for Paul, but also for all people.

1.2/ No one can frustrate God’s will.

            (1) How can a persecutor become a believer? This question was put out by many people, as with Ananias in his vision with the Lord. “The Lord said to him, "Ananias." He answered, "Here I am, Lord."The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying, and (in a vision) he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, that he may regain his sight." 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."”

            (2) God’s plan for Saul: But the Lord said to him, "Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name."

            “So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, "Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit." Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength. He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus,and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.”     

            Saul went to Damascus with a purpose which was to seize the faithful. When he came back to Jerusalem, he preached the Good News and witnessed for the one he persecuted. This is a proof that nothing is impossible to God.

2/ Gospel: Jesus can nourish people with his flesh.

2.1/ It is impossible to men: The Jews could understand “the bread descends from heaven,” because their fathers ate manna in the desert; but when Jesus identified “the bread descends from heaven” with his body (sárk), they quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"

                    Jesus explained for them in details, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”

            Jesus used not only two nouns, flesh (sárk) and blood (aima), but also two verbs, to chew (trogein) and to drink (piein), as people eat food and drink water. This shows Jesus wanted to mention the literal meaning of the words, not merely the symbolic meaning. Many people through all generations still deny the living and true presence of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Some say the bread is a symbol for God’s word; some say the presence is only spiritual. The reason behind all these stipulation is simply because they think that to nourish by Jesus’ flesh and blood is impossible.

2.2/ People must eat Christ’s flesh to have eternal life: Jesus continued to emphasize the importance of the Eucharist: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

            The life that Jesus mentioned here isn’t only about the physical life (psyche), but also the divine and eternal life (zoe). There is a difference between the two food: bread can only bring about the physical life; but Jesus’ body and blood gives people the divine life and they shall inherit the eternal life.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We should never confine God into human limit. When we can’t understand God’s mysteries, we should accept them with our eyes of faith.

            - We must believe that God can do all things. We should quickly do what He commanded us, especially to frequently receive the sacrament of the Eucharist.

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