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Acts of the Apostles 9:1-20

Saul was still breathing threats to slaughter the Lord’s disciples. He had gone to the high priest and asked for letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, that would authorise him to arrest and take to Jerusalem any followers of the Way, men or women, that he could find.

Suddenly, while he was travelling to Damascus and just before he reached the city, there came a light from heaven all around him. He fell to the ground, and then heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, Lord?” he asked, and the voice answered, “I am Jesus, and you are persecuting me. Get up now and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do.” The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless, for though they heard the voice they could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but even with his eyes wide open he could see nothing at all, and they had to lead him into Damascus by the hand. For three days he was without his sight, and took neither food nor drink.

A disciple called Ananias who lived in Damascus had a vision in which he heard the Lord say to him, “Ananias!” When he replied, “Here I am, Lord,” the Lord said, “You must go to Straight Street and ask at the house of Judas for someone called Saul, who comes from Tarsus. At this moment he is praying, having had a vision of a man called Ananias coming in and laying hands on him to give him back his sight.”

When he heard that, Ananias said, “Lord, several people have told me about this man and all the harm he has been doing to your saints in Jerusalem. He has only come here because he holds a warrant from the chief priests to arrest everybody who invokes your name.” The Lord replied, “You must go all the same, because this man is my chosen instrument to bring my name before pagans and pagan kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he himself must suffer for my name.” Then Ananias went. He entered the hose, and at once laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, I have been sent by the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on your way here so that you may recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately it was as though scales fell away from Saul’s eyes and he could see again. So he was baptised there and then, and after taking some food he regained his strength.

After he had spent only a few days with the disciples in Damascus, he began preaching in the synagogues, “Jesus is the Son of God.”
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John 6:52-59

The Jews started arguing with one another: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they said. Jesus replied:

“I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man
and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.”

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I remember an incident back in university when we had a campus outreach booth for the Catholic Students Society. In those days, we frequently had Protestant fundamentalists come to our booth to attack the Catholic faith. So in subsequent years we made sure that at all times, there would be at least one Catholic who was equally good at defending the faith.

This particular incident that I recall broke out into a heated argument between one such Protestant fundamentalist and one Protestant fundamentalist turned Catholic, so much so that at the end, when the Protestant left the booth in the huff, the Catholic called out after him, “Brother, I pray for you that God may touch you and like Paul, the scales may fall from your eyes!” That was the first time that I had heard this phrase of scales falling from a person’s eyes.

Another person recently remarked to me that Protestant fundamentalists take the bible literally in all things, but conveniently miss out a few crucial things that really should be taken literally, not symbolically. One of those things is found in today’s gospel reading, where Jesus says, “If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you.” These Protestant fundamentalists are somehow able to say that Jesus means this symbolically, while saying that everything in the Bible is to be taken literally.

However, before we point fingers at other Christians, Catholics must look at ourselves and ask, “Do I really believe that the Eucharist is really the body and blood of Christ?”

Just a couple of days ago, there was a news report on how Singaporeans know that piracy is wrong, but can’t resist downloading stuff from the Internet any way. Actions speak louder than words. We know that this is wrong only in our heads; it hasn’t made that long journey from head to heart yet.

Similarly, many Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the body and blood in our heads, but not in our hearts. This is clearly seen in the reverence that we show the Eucharist. How many of us receive the Eucharist with reverence? How many of us spend time alone before and after Mass adoring the Blessed Sacrament? How many of us take time off our busy week to spend some time with Jesus in an adoration room where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed?

Indeed many of us know that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ, but sadly, we do not believe it. We are no better than Protestant fundamentalists in this aspect; we are worse off. We are like Saul who, even with his eyes wide open, could not see anything. We can stand before Jesus and receive Him in our hands, but even if we were looking at the Eucharist in front of us, we still cannot see Jesus. We are blind.

Let us pray therefore for the Spirit of the Lord to awaken within us a deep reverence for the Holy Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus, the real food and real drink for our spiritual lives, and we ask that the scales may fall from our eyes, so that once again we may be able to see Jesus in the Eucharist. Amen.
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Give Thanks to the Lord for: Always being with us, even though at times we are blind to His presence.

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