Scripture: 1st Reading: Acts16,1-10; Resp. Psalm: Ps100,1-5; Gosp. Accl.: Col3,1; Gospel: Jn15,18-21
They gave no scandal. They respected the sensitivities of the people. They used their God given wisdom, talents and endowments for the spread of the gospel. They were untiring in their zeal for the salvation of souls. They devoted their energy to the mission to the gentiles and pagans. The hand of God was with them.
They listened to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. They obeyed and followed the exact directives and promptings given to them by the Spirit of God. They went into a town, city or region if the Spirit gave them the nod and they turned their backs on any city or region the Spirit forbade them from entering.
For Paul and his various companions on the missionary journeys and preaching missions, the "project" was not personal. It was not for any personal gain. It was not for accumulation of wealth, position, influence. It was not even for the acquisition and possession of religious power and influence.
It was for just one reason: service of the Lord and of neighbour. What propelled them was obedience to the commands of the Lord to go out and make disciples of the nations. They saw themselves as privileged to have been called to such a high responsibility of working for God, knowing fully well that the Lord had the power to bring His purpose to fulfillment through other means.
They preached the gospel with power and courage. They preached it untiringly, unceasingly, without borders and with no cultural prejudice. They went to places where they were received. The Lord worked with them to confirm their message.
The decision of the Apostles at the Council of Jerusalem brought about a great missionary expansion. Because of the decision that gentiles did not have to become observers of Jewish practises before becoming Christians, the door was opened for the great harvest of souls in the gentile world.
They did this at some great price. The words of our Lord in today's gospel was brought to fulfillment in them. The world hated them. They were persecuted, hounded, maltreated, imprisoned, brought before authorities. A good number of them gave their lives for the faith they professed in Christ.
Our Lord had assured all His disciples that the world would do these to them because they were not of the world. They had been chosen out of the world. They were signs of contradiction. In their persecution, they imitated their Master who was persecuted unto death. If the world did not keep their word, the Apostles would only be following in the footsteps of their Master.
The world would do these terrible and agonizing things to those who believe in Christ because they professed the name of Christ. They would do it because the world does not know Him who sent the Lord Jesus into the world. Such would be the tragedy of the lives of those who kill believers, thinking they are doing a holy duty for God. They would do it because they do not know the One and True God.
We have our work cut out for us. In every circumstance of life that we find ourselves, let us beware witness to the Lord. In all moments of life, let us see opportunities for testifying to the goodness of God and of winning souls for the kingdom. What He requires of us is our cooperation. The work is His. The harvest is His. Salvation of souls is His project. Let us collaborate with Him today and thus work for our own salvation.
Let us pray: "Almighty eternal God, who through the regenerating power of Baptism have been pleased to confer on us heavenly life, grant, we pray, that those you render capable of immortality by justifying them, may by your guidance attain the fullness of glory." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.