Scripture: Lectionary 281. May 2. Acts 12:24-13:5. Psalm 67:2-3.6-8.
As we move slowly away from the Easter celebrations, we become aware through the readings of the presence of the Holy Spirit. After the fifty days of unbounded joy, the feast of Pentecost arrives. It is named after the Jewish Feast of Weeks or Shevuoth—7 weeks after the Passover. The Holy Spirit is always at work in the Acts of the Apostles as we learn how the apostles continue to preach the word of God and to be sent to all the nations. Traditions will have a designated land for each apostle. Today’s readings show us Saul and Barnabas being confirmed in the Holy Spirit to be sent. God says, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have called them.” After hands on layed on them, the Holy Spirit sends them out to start their missionary work. At this stage, they only preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in synagogues, but soon they will be working exclusively among the Gentiles. Saul will be named Paul and he will be called by later Christians, the Apostle to the Gentiles.
All of those who are sent do the work that Jesus had done and just as the Father has sent Jesus as “The Apostle” so, too, they will be those sent (apostles). Jesus has told them, “The Father has sent me has commanded me what to say and how to speak. Since I know that his commandment means eternal life, whatever I say is spoken just as he commanded me.”
Psalm 67 is a psalm that includes the Gentiles and thus complements what is said in the Acts of the Apostles. We pray then, “O God, let all the nations praise you.” The Jewish commentary says of this psalm, “Here, again, we have the note struck of the working week, with its hopes of prosperity. But with the Psalmists prosperity lifts the eye from earth to heaven, and so this Psalm is a prayer for salvation in the widest sense, and not for Israel only, but for the whole world.” (Soncino, Psalms, p.207).
All of us can work together and praise the Lord while doing what we do best and by giving it a religious accent and motivation. All of us are made in the image and likeness of God and we have learned that all men and women are called to be sent for one another and to bring God’s merciful kindness to all of God’s children. This is not an easy task for we like to be in our comfort zones with those whom we like and love. The call that Barnabas and Saul had, the call the Isaiah and Jeremiah had went beyond their comfort zones. They suffered for being the ones sent by God by the Holy Spirit. Amen. Alleluia. Alleluia.