Go! for Lent: Acts 22:10
In today’s scripture passage, Paul gives one of his accounts of his encounter with Jesus. He was on his way to Damascus when a heavenly light shone on him. He fell to the ground and heard Jesus calling him. It’s a dramatic moment. “Saul,” Jesus says, “why are you persecuting me?” It is striking that Jesus’ first words to Paul (Saul would later be known as Paul) are in the form of a question.
This moment of questioning reminds me of when God asked Adam a question in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had disobeyed God by eating from the tree of life, and when they heard God approaching for what had become their evening stroll through the garden, they hid themselves. God then calls out to Adam: “Where are you?”
Although Jesus’ question to Saul was phrased differently, I believe its essence was the same question God put to Adam: Where are you in relation to me? It’s like God is saying I know who you are and what you are trying to do. I see how you are spending your life, pushing ahead with what you think your life is about. But, where are you in relation to me? Have you thought about how you might be missing me in your life, even in the midst of your pursuit of me?
Then we get a question from Saul: “What am I to do, Lord?” “Get up and go to Damascus,” God says. “There you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.”
What is interesting to note is that Saul is speaking to the risen Christ, but he doesn’t get all the information he seeks. He’s told to go to Damascus where he will be told everything assigned to him. Would it be another revelatory encounter with a blinding light and a voice from heaven? Would Saul be thrown down to the ground by the overwhelming presence of God? The answer is no. God would speak in a much more ordinary way than that. The voice of God comes in the form of a fellow follower of Jesus - Ananias’ knocking on Saul’s door and asking to come in to talk. It is the voice of God speaking through Ananias that tells Saul who he is in relation to God.
We are approaching the end of our Lenten journey. It has been a time to reflect on the question of our relation to God. But we can’t find the answer within ourselves. That is not how the risen Christ speaks to us. Our answer to God’s question of where we are in relation to God is tied up with the community that forms around Jesus. The life of Jesus is speaking to us through the community that makes up the body of Christ, our Damascus where we can hear Ananias speak to us. In the community that gathers around Christ in the Eucharist. In the shared life of your local church community and beyond. In the communion of saints.
Where are you? Get up and go to Damascus where your sisters and brothers are. They will speak the words of the risen Jesus to you, calling your name in love.