Scripture: 1st Reading: Acts14,19-28; Resp. Psalm: Ps145,10-13,21; Gosp. Accl.: Lk24,26,46; Gospel: Jn14,27-31
When one is on fire with divine love, one's life no longer belongs to him. In that situation, the unseen hands of God guide the person. The Spirit of the Living God possesses the immortal soul of this person and the guidance of God becomes total. No other earthly persuasion makes sense; no earthly powers are feared. There is utter disregard for personal safety: all that matters is to please the Lord, who has possessed one's soul and made it His dwelling place.
Paul and Barnabas were opposed in Antioch of Pisidia and in Iconium. There were plans even to molest and stone them. They ran to Lystra. But even Lystra was no hiding place. Lystra was no refuge. The adversaries caught up with them in Lystra, instigated the people, had Paul stoned and dragged him out of the city, presuming him dead.
But the Spirit of God in these disciples was indomitable. The disciples gathered round Paul where he was abandoned outside the city, probably ministered to him in prayer. Paul rose up, entered the city again and the next day went on with Barnabas to Derbe! Isn't that incredible? This was Paul who to all intents and purposes was dead, but who was revived, and was totally not discouraged about his sufferings and the terrible treatment meted to him.
Paul had a close shave with death; he knew the Jews wanted to kill him, which was why they stoned him. But in spite of that, Paul could not be stopped. From Derbe, he came back to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, the same cities where he had experienced great hatred, jealousy and opposition. Then with Barnabas and others, they passed through Pisidia, to Pamphilia, to Perga, Attalia and then back to Antioch.
Instead of being disappointed at the treatment they got and the danger to which they were exposed, they "gathered the Church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles." Unlike us, they found no reason to complain. They saw themselves as too privileged to have been given such a great commission by God. They saw their lives as blessed.
We often wonder what kind of hearts these early disciples had. We often ruminate about what prompted them to do so much. The world around them was in turmoil, they saw hatred walking on two legs, having two hands, but were totally undeterred. The reason for their courage was the peace of Christ that reigned in their hearts. The Lord left His peace with them and gave them His own peace. This was not the transient, ephemeral, unreliable peace that the world gave.
That peace of Christ in their hearts was the clincher. It was the assurance they needed. With this peace, our Lord told them "Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you." They were assured of the presence of their Lord and Master and knew that whatever was the case and circumstance, they would always prevail. They believed. They bore great fruits.
Let us reflect deeply today on the quality of our discipleship. We have been with Him for quite a long time now. What have we achieved for Him? What are we achieving now? What do we still hope to achieve? How do we take the rejection and opposition of people when they turn away from the message of life we preach or show to them?
Let us pray: "O God, who restore us to eternal life in the Resurrection of Christ, grant your people constancy in faith and hope, that we may never doubt the promises of which we have learned from you." Amen
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.