After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch. There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.”
And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe. Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Today’s reading from Acts 14 illustrates just how Jesus’ commandment of love was incarnated in the early Church. The first Christians formed a network of persons. Then the first apostles established practical social structures which Paul and Barnabas and the others used to preach the good news of Jesus Christ.
These men and women who are our early elders in faith didn’t think of themselves as pioneers and heroes, but rather as instruments of God commissioned to preach about the love of Jesus in his living, dying, and rising.
Now you and I might not get out of bed with the goal of preaching about the love of Jesus in his living, dying, and rising. Yet in a real sense that is what our commitment in baptism is all about. No doubt there will be distractions and misunderstandings as we walk in Jesus’ footsteps.
Fatigue and tension may even bring out our worst side as we get grumpy and impatient. Others may take pot shots at us and we may even feel “persecuted” in some way for our values and beliefs. In the end Jesus reminds us anew: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, that you have love for one another.”
This last Sunday of April reminds us that Jesus’ Easter gifts are those of peace, hope, joy and new life…all given in abundance. And just when we might think we have everything under control…“The One who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new!’ ”
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the wicked enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with all Thy saints,
I may praise Thee
Forever and ever.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola (Anima Christi)