In our first reading today, Judas and Ananias take an extraordinary risk because of their love for the Lord and their ability to listen -- really listen -- to him. They helped a fanatically prejudiced, dangerous enemy. And thus they played a significant role in changing the world.
How would we respond if Jesus were to appear to us in a vision and tell us to help a Muslim extremist? What if Jesus had already converted the Muslim's heart? Are our prayer lives so brief and weak that we would think this can't be real?
Let's make this question easier: What if the Holy Spirit gives us a vision of Jesus telling us, "Go to the house of your neighbor. He's got a visitor there and I want you to minister to him." Would we trust the vision? Would we stop what we're doing and go?
Visions were normal for Christians for many centuries. Then the Age of Enlightenment and scientific inquiry dictated that everything has to be proven by repeatable, empirical studies or else it cannot be true. The supernatural became viewed as mere superstition.
Okay, let's say we're willing to give it a try. We'll knock on the neighbor's door, just to see if he's got a visitor. But what if Jesus, during the vision, says that he wants to work through us to provide a miraculous healing? Is this too much? Too doubtful? Or do we reply: "Jesus, if you want it, then he'll be healed as you say."
Ananias went despite fears and logic. He and Judas were the first Christians to befriend and forgive Saul (renamed Paul). Because they trusted Jesus more than their own perspectives and ideas, they were Paul's first experience of true Christianity.
We must never underestimate the impact that we can make when we follow Christ into unknown, unpredictable, unreasonable and even scary circumstances. What has he been asking you to do that you've been resisting? Your act of faith might be the first step in a long, hugely important plan of God. We must never underestimate how essential we are.
Jesus says in today's Gospel reading that his Flesh is bread from heaven. By consuming his Flesh and Blood in the Eucharist at Mass, we renew our participation in God's salvation plan for the world. Just as Jesus risked everything to heal our souls and lead us to heaven, so too are we sent forth from Mass to take risks with him, carrying his healing and salvation to others.
Okay, what if Jesus tells us that the person we're to visit at our neighbor's house is our ex-spouse? Or the father who abused us? Or the employer who makes our job miserable? Or that other person who makes us angry or fearful?