The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. (John 6:51)
In the Collect for Proper 15, which we have been praying all week, we thank God that he gave his “only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life” (BCP 232).
Jesus himself outlines the terms of that sacrifice in his discourse on bread (John 6). The crowd has trouble overcoming their revulsion at his message about eating flesh and cannot understand his meaning.
Saul, too, is revolted by the message. His distaste for the early followers of the Way leads him to persecute them, “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1).
Even after he is struck down by a vision and brought to Damascus, Saul still has a lot to learn. Jesus tells Ananias in a vision, “I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:16).
When our thoughts are consumed by the wrongs of others, when we wish ill upon those we dislike, we are like Saul and still have a lot to learn. We still have to learn to be thankful rather than angry. We still have to learn to follow Jesus in the way of the cross, “the way of life and peace” (BCP 99), laying down our lives for the sake of others.
If we let Jesus show us the way, then perhaps “something like scales” will fall from our eyes, too. With Saul, we will see how much we must suffer — how much we must set aside our own anger and self-will — for the sake of Jesus’ name.
Within that suffering, however, we trust that we will be granted “grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life” (BCP 232).