Scripture: 1st Reading: Acts18,9-18; Resp. Psalm: Ps47,2-7; Gosp. Accl.: Mt28,19-20; Gospel: Jn16,20-23
It is good to serve the Lord. It is good to preach His word and bring joy, gladness, freedom, release, hope of heaven to the people. It is gratifying to be counted among those who collaborate with the Master to bring about the spread of His kingdom of love.
The work of preaching the gospel, however satisfying it is, is not a bed of roses. The work has a lot of challenges, hardships, difficulties and pains. The work can sometimes put one before the firing squad of enemies. The work makes one the enemy number one of the adversaries of the word and the agents of darkness.
St. Paul had these two experience of preaching the gospel. He had the joy of bringing countless souls to Christ. This brought him much joy. He also had the misfortune of persecutions, hardships, privations, dangers, sufferings and even martyrdom for the sake of the gospel.
In Corinth, Paul had to be reassured by our Lord that He would be with Him. Our Lord told him not to be afraid. Paul was commanded by our Lord to speak and not be silent. Spurious allegations were brought against him but the proconsul Gallio drove them out of his tribunal. He said since Paul was not accused of any wrongdoing or vicious crime, he was not prepared to judge on the accusations they brought against Paul.
The life of Paul and the Apostles and early disciples eloquently fulfilled the prophecy of our Lord in His farewell discourse at the Last Supper. Our Lord told His disciples that they would weep and lament, would be sorrowful while the world would rejoice. The sorrow of the true disciple of the Master would be however shortlived: it would be like the sorrow of a woman in labour. The Master would see His faithful disciples again, and they would then rejoice.
It is foolhardy for a true disciple of Jesus to think that bearing witness will not bring him some sorrow, pain, opposition and even violence. But we must not forget that our Lord and Master will come back again to us to give us the fullness of joy. We remember believers who are in the line of duty in enemy territories. We pray for them for strength and perseverance.
We remember with pride those of them who have given their lives and died for Christ's gospel. We pray for those who have sworn to destroy Christianity that God may convert them, just the way He converted Saul. We pray for ourselves for courage to bear witness to Christ.
We are waiting expectantly for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. We can avail ourselves of these nine days before Pentecost to make special prayers to the Holy Spirit in preparation for His coming. "Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in us your divine love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created and Thou shall renew the face of the earth."
Let us pray: "O God, who restore us to eternal life in the Resurrection of Christ, raise us up, we pray, to the author of our salvation, who is seated at your right hand, so that when our Saviour comes again in majesty, those you have given new birth in Baptism may be clothed with blessed immortality." Amen
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always. Rev. Fr. Anthony Igbekele