Daily Scriptures Reflection for 5/7/12

Scripture: Lectionary # 285. May 7, 2012. Acts 14:5-18. Psalm
115:1-2.3-4.15-16. John 14:21-26

Monday’s Readings

Today’s first reading made me think of Homer’s Odyssey where it
describes the ceremonies offered to Zeus and the gods of the Greeks.
I had studied the Odyssey with a priest named Fr. Bart (not related to
the Simpsons!) who got our class into the spirit of Homer. The Jesuits
had produced two excellent books on Homer and we had our start in the
Greek language through Homeric Greek. It was fun and still is but the
Greek now is that of the New Testament called Koine Greek or Common
Greek. All of the books of the New Testament are written in this
common language known during the first century by most educated
people. It was the lingua franca of the Mediterranean world.  Philip
the apostle and maybe Andrew were among the followers of Jesus who
could communicate with the Gentile traders in Galilee.  Then in the
Acts we know that Paul is speaking Greek to the Gentiles in order to
evangelize them. He is the light for the nations and the apostle of
the nations.
Thus our first reading touches upon the religious practices of those
who honor Zeus and Hermes (Mercury).  With the healing of a believing
cripple, Paul and Barnabas are for the Lycaonians Zeus and Hermes.
The priests of the Greeks in that town which to offer them sacrifices
and bring wagons filled with flowers. Luke captures the elan and
spirit of both Homer and the Holy Spirit that drive Paul and Barnabas
to keep preaching in Jesus’ name despite the fact they sometimes are
abused and stoned. This happens just before they come to Lystra and
Derbe where the Lycaonians have respect from them through their
religious myths about Zeus (Barnabas) and Hermes, the messenger,
(Paul).

Paul and Barnabas reject the sacrifice and tell them that they are
just humans as those wishing to honor them; they are not gods.  In
their minds is always the key message of the Book of Revelation:
“Worship God alone!” Certainly, Paul and

Barnabas had to be inwardly pleased with the more excited and ecstatic
honor given to them in comparison to the stoning they had just
encountered from both Jews and Greeks at Iconium.  They continued with
apostolic boldness to preach in Jesus’ Name. Their staunch and
courageous faith made them rejoice when they suffered because of the
Name they proclaimed.  Both Paul and Barnabas were living out what we
sing in today’s response in Psalm 115: “Not to us, O Lord, but to your
Name give glory.”

In the Gospel Jesus continues to speak of the commandments of love and
belief in Him.  He continues to reveal to them the gift of the Holy
Spirit (the Paraclete) who will be their advocate or spokesperson with
the Father on Jesus’ behalf.  Paul and Barnabas will then carry out
their mission to the Gentiles in the area of Galatia (Turkey). Jesus’
promise has been kept and they live within it by having it fulfilled
through their preaching and healing of peoples.

As we move toward Pentecost, the mention of the Spirit will continue.
In John we have already experienced the Spirit through John 14: 16-17:
“I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be
with you forever, that Spirit of truth which the world cannot receive,
since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is
with you, he is in you.” Today’s reading furthers that sending of the
Spirit in verse 26: “but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the
Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you
of all I said to you.”

Fr. George W.MacRae, S.J. comments, “The most important point to note
is that this is another Paraclete (verse 16) implying that Jesus has
fulfilled the same role while he was with the disciples. The Holy
Spirit, therefore, in this capacity, is the continued divine presence
assisting the disciples to perform the mission of Jesus in the world.
He will remain with them and in them. He will teach them everything
and make them remember all that Jesus has said. The Fourth Gospel
itself is evidence of the work of the Paraclete in the Johannine
church.” (Invitation to John, p.180). Amen.Alleluia. Alleluia.

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