Embrace the faith

May 15, 2022

The author of Acts sums up Paul’s initial missionary journey by saying that he “opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (14:27). First, he and Barnabas did not force it upon the people in the cities they visited, nor did they fight back against people who opposed them, as we heard last week. No, they taught them about Christ and invited them to believe. Secondly, they proclaimed the Good News specifically to the Gentiles, giving them the opportunity to embrace the faith as well as giving the early church the  opportunity to expand far outside Judea. This is the model we can follow as well: open the door of faith, inviting those who are unattached and those who are outsiders to join.  Note that Paul and Barnabas don’t reel people in and then take off. Today we hear them return to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, where they strengthened and encouraged the new disciples. They appointed elders in each community, whom they could correspond with after they left. They prayed and fasted with them. Back in the city of Antioch in Syria (not to be confused with the town of Antioch in Pisidia), they reported their success and no doubt the church there prayed for the church in Pisidia and Pamphylia, as we do now for the Church in other parts of the world. Jesus’ commandment to his disciples is a lot more challenging than just the warm fuzzy feeling we get when we think of loving one another. No, Jesus asks that we love one another in the way that he has loved us. This means we have to be willing to give of ourselves, to even lay down our lives for one another. Let John’s vision in Revelation inspire us. “God’s dwelling is with the human race,” he says (Revelation 21:3). God is right here, renewing us, redeeming us, loving us. Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World Library Publication, 2022)

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