One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.” He stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. They said, “This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to the law.” Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of crime or serious villainy, I would be justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews; but since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves; I do not wish to be a judge of these matters.”
And he dismissed them from the tribunal. Then all of them seized Sosthenes, the official of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of these things. After staying there for a considerable time, Paul said farewell to the believers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut, for he was under a vow.
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
At times I feel alone and on my own with my faith. This tends to occur when work becomes overly stressful, personal relationships become strained, or the unexpected occurs. This happened recently: hoping to have our first child, my wife and I discovered infertility issues. Though I yearned for it, I was not able to recognize God’s presence in these struggles. It was a lonely, painful time.
In today’s first reading, Paul encounters his own desolation while teaching and proclaiming the Gospel. God reassures Paul that “I am with you” and “I have many people in this city.” The vision affirms God’s presence and reminds Paul there is a community of support to help him move beyond fear and towards action.
The reality is, even when I feel distant, even in the midst of despair, God is present, surrounding me with a community of people who reflect God’s love, strength, hope, compassion, and mercy. Experiencing these gifts through others enables me move forward with courage.
How can I better recognize God’s love and support in the people around me even during trying times?
—Andy Rebollar is a Pastoral Associate at St. Pius X Parish in Grandville, MI and writes for Charis Ministries.
Lord, when we feel distant to you and despair chokes our hearts, bring good people to us. Help their care and concern remind us that your hand is upon us.
—Jesuit Prayer Team