A reading from the Acts of the Apostles 9:1-20
Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" He said, "Who are you, sir?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do." The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank. There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." He answered, "Here I am, Lord." The Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, that he may regain his sight." But Ananias replied, "Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name." So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, "Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength. He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus, and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
REFLECTION: "Here I am, Lord."
Josef ("Jef") De Veuster, born in Belgium, was the youngest of seven children.
When he applied for the seminary, his superiors did not feel that he had the adequate education. However, he was able to learn Latin fairly well and so he was accepted. During his studies, he prayed daily before a picture of St Francis Xavier, patron of missionaries, to be sent on a mission.
In 1863, he petitioned the highest authority to be allowed to go to Hawaii on a mission. When the Bishop of the Honolulu diocese called for volunteer priests to serve in the leprosy colony of Molokai, four priests volunteered. Father Damien most likely said, "Here I am, Lord." He established the first parish in Kalaupapa. He stayed in the leper colony until he died of leprosy fifteen years later. Today we celebrate his feast day--St Damien, the patron saint of lepers. Though he died on April 15, his feast day is celebrated on the day that he arrived at the leper colony and performed an ultimate act of charity and selflessness .
We hear the phrase "Here I am, Lord " in Isaiah 6:8 and in 1 Samuel 3 and we sing the lyrics written by Danial Schutte in church many times. Ananias said, " Here I am, Lord" and though he was worried about his safety with a man whose career was persecuting Christians, he did as the Lord directed him.
May we respond when we hear the Lord calling us, "Here I am, Lord, I trust your Holy Will."
Praying that our priests will follow the Lord's calling and have the virtue of obedience and go where the Holy Spirit will lead them.