24 Apr – Memorial of Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest, Martyr
Lawyer and philosophy teacher. Disgusted by the greed, corruption, and lack of interest in justice by his fellow lawyers, Mark Rey abandoned the law, became a priest, became a Franciscan friar with his brother George, changed his name to Fidelis, and gave away his worldly wealth to poor people in general and poor seminarians in particular. He was served his friary as guardian, and worked in epidemics, especially healing soldiers. He led a group of Capuchins to preach to Calvinists and Zwinglians in Switzerland. The success of this work, and lack of violence suffered by mission was attributed to Fidelis spending his nights in prayer. He was, however, eventually martyred for his preaching.
– Patron Saint Index
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 round him. He fell to the ground, and then he 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 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 house, 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.
He began preaching in the synagogues, ‘Jesus is the Son of God.’
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.’
He taught this doctrine at Capernaum, in the synagogue.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
I don’t know of any other religion whereby its followers get to be in intimate communion with their founder through a ritual that involves them eating a piece of bread and drinking from a cup of his blood. When Jesus Christ told His apostles to eat his body and drink his blood, He was truly giving himself to them and, to all those who followed. So what used to be a ritual that we performed at every mass took on a very different significance once I began to understand why Communion was the climax of the mass.
In giving himself to us, Jesus Christ wasn’t just feeding us; He gave himself to us so that He could live in us and we could live in Him. For me, that communion with Christ is something truly special and wondrous. And the fact that He makes himself so accessible to us on a daily basis truly boggles the mind. Only a God who loves us deeply could have conceived such a plan for those who believe in Him.
So as we receive Christ in us each day or each week at mass, ask yourself this question, “Have I truly lived my life as a son or daughter of God to deserve His coming into my very being?” We say that we are not worthy that He should enter under our roof but that all He needs to do is to say the word and we shall be healed. Brothers and sisters, the real question is this – Are we truly open and prepared to receive Him in our hearts? For Jesus can indeed say the word and heal us, but only if deep down in our hearts, we are open and receptive to hearing the words He speaks to us.
The healing will come only if we clear all the obstacles from within that hinder us from receiving His love. All our pride, our attachments to sin, our fears and anxieties, our addictions and all our deep-seated wounds. Christ can only come into our lives if we are willing to look deep within ourselves and lay bare our souls. Because in receiving Christ, we are acknowledging that He is the ruler of our souls and that His way is the only way forward for us. We cannot profess to be His sons and daughters if we continue to cling on to everything that ultimately we will have to leave here on earth when we die.
I ask that we all take courage and come to terms with our sins and to confess them at the next opportunity so that when we receive Christ in communion, we are not just eating a piece of bread, but actually welcoming Him into our hearts and allowing Him to work within us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Lord, give us the courage and strength to overcome all temptation and to rid ourselves of sin so that we may receive you in your fullness, knowing that you will work your miracles within all of us.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for the gift of your son, Jesus Christ.