Reflection on the Daily Readings for 5/06/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Wed. of 4th week in Easter. Acts 12:24-13:5. Psalm
67:2-18.104.22.168. John 12:44-50. Lectionary # 281:
Only here in the Acts of the Apostles is the verb for liturgical
action used in the sense of prayer, worship, and thanksgiving. (Acts 13:2).
Ordinarily when applied to Christians, it no longer has a proper cultic
tone: it describes the service of mutual aid, which the collection and
almsgiving were, thereby conferring on it the status of divine service.
(Dictionary of the N.Testament, X.Leon-Dufour). Five of the teachers and
prophets were assembled at Antioch: Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, and Menahem
and Saul who would soon be named Paul. All are participating in liturgical
actions and prayers in thanksgiving for the success and growth of the
church that they were experiencing. The Spirit descends upon them and they
lay hands on Barnabas and Saul thus commissioning them for the beginning of
a missionary journey. They will do this with great courage and enthusiasm
and bring more Gentiles into the Church from Cyprus.
This recalls the great effect that after Vatican II the Constitution
on the Liturgy had on the churches throughout the world. We do well to
reread that Constitution from time to time in order to better appreciate
the call to particpation in the liturgy and to learn about its depth and
breadth in the life of the Church. It was well received all over the world
for it opened up the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist to being offered
and participated in the vernacular. Ministers of the Word, priests, and
deacons, religious are especially called to reread this important document.
Looking back into the Acts of the Apostles we see such a liturgy
taking place at Antioch where the name Christian was first used. Fr.
Fitzmyer says, “One might think of the imposition of hands as a sort of
“ordination,” but the context argues for a missionary mandate and a
blessing rather than for a sacramental bestowal of powers.” (Jermome
Biblical Commentary, p.192. 45:64).
Barnabas and Saul’s missionary labor is to bring the Name of Jesus
and the Gospel to the Gentiles. This happens today through many people
going to the missions. Not only priests, sisters, and brothers, but many
college students who perform the works that are also implied in the word
for liturgy in the New Testament such as service, concern for the poor,
distribution of gifts, building and catechising the people in the Gospels
and the Creed. We may wish to offer a special prayer for all those who
have this apostolic zeal for the missions. Amen.