Scripture: Lectionary # 286. May 8th, 2012. Acts 14:19-28. Psalm 145:
10-11.12-13.21. John 14:27-31
Intensity increases as we move more into the last discourse of Jesus
on the night before he died. Jesus promises his apostles peace and
tells them not to be fearful or distressed when he departs from them.
They still are oblivious to his situation of being condemned to death
on the Cross and have no inkling that this is to happen very soon.
Jesus tells them he is returning to the Father. This is the final
stage of the Incarnation where having become on with us in our human
nature through his birth of the Virgin Mary, he now returns to the
Father as the only begotten Son of God and the Word who was with the
Father from the beginning. The promise of the Holy Spirit is not
fully understood by the apostles but they do trust in the last
testament of Jesus that they will have a Paraclete, that is, another
Advocate who will take up their cause and give them hope and
consolation after his death.
What we read in the Acts of the Apostles happens after Jesus is risen
from the dead and ascended into heaven. We now learn of the apostolic
boldness of the apostles who continue what he began. Paul and
Barnabas bring the news to cities far north of Cyprus and even farther
from Jerusalem where Jesus no longer is seen. Paul and Barnabas are
living out the commission of Jesus to proclaim the Good News in his
Name. Even when they are abused and stoned, they move on to other
cities where the Gentiles listen and become believers in the Person of
Jesus. We are seeing the first great evangelization through Paul the
Apostle of the Gentiles and the light for the nations. They bring new
life to those who were in darkness through their preaching of the
sufferings, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Savior of all
Paul and Barnabas are not fearful. They even retrace their steps
before returning to Antioch where they relate what has happened to
them on the first great apostolic mission. They have taught the
others and the newcomers that one does not live for oneself but for
Christ who gives new life to all through his resurrection. The new
house churches and communities are the Body of Christ which the
apostles have formed and nourished with the Word of God and the Bread
of Life. The name Christian which was first said of the believers at
Antioch is now spreading throughout the Mediterranean world.
We rejoice in this great evangelization and missionary effort of the
first followers of Jesus and take courage in our own faith by become
evangelizers in our own situations, ministries and working areas.
This is how the Body of Christ grows and is present today. We too
have been called to be apostles with the great message of Easter.
The following reading from St. Paul to the Romans is a reflection that
helps us to meditate more deeply on the Scriptures of today:
The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the
word of faith which we preach). For if you confess with your lips that
Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the
dead, you will be saved. Faith in the heart leads to justification,
confession on the lips to salvation. (Romans 10:8b-10). Amen Alleluia.