Today’s reading give us a second verse quoted by Jesus to Satan during the temptation in the desert. There is subtle but important way this verse is phrased. The verse Jesus will later quote is:
And he [God] humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Notice, this verse is equating the manna and the word. It suggests that the manna, which was a bread like substance the Israelites actually ate, comes forth from the mouth of God. Of course we know that Jesus is the word made flesh. So we have the word made bread and the word made flesh. Those two are the same thing! And later Jesus will say, “I am the bread of life” and over blessed bread, “this is my body”.
Today we read the speech delivered by Paul to the crowd in the temple that wants to kill him. He starts by speaking Hebrew. This is to let the crowd know that he is a Jew. Then he details his bona fides that he studied under the great rabbi G and that he earnestly persecuted the Christians.
Notice he recounts his conversion and he repeats the same words we read previously, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute ME”. It wasn’t a mistake or a misstatement. Jesus is so intimately connected to us that he counts the persecutions of this followers the same as if he is being persecuted himself.
Then we read this important statement about Paul’s baptism:
16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.
Notice, here baptism is described as having the effect of washing away your sins. It is not merely a symbol of an inner reality (although it is that too) but it action that has the effect of doing what it represents. This is the definition of sacrament. Christ gave us instructions to do things. If these things were merely symbols there would be no effective change from the old covenant. However, because Christ’s sacrifice is effective and because he is so closely bound up with the Church He makes the things he instructed us to do effective. That is why we see here that when Paul is baptized it actually washed away sins. That is why when we see the Apostles lay hands on converts we are told that the Holy Spirit actually comes down upon them. That is why marriage is an unbreakable bond between two people where the two become one flesh. That is why when the Priest says, “this is my body” it actually becomes the body and blood of the Lord.