First Reading: Acts 14:5-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 115:1-4,15-16
Gospel: John 14:21-26
Today, our readings continue to follow St Paul as he faces persecution for preaching the Gospel. In this reading, we see two opposite reactions to the Gospel juxtaposed, which demonstrates that virtue is temperate, the moderate point between the extremes. On the one hand, there were Jews in Iconium who were so opposed to the preaching of the Gospel that they try to kill Paul and Barnabas for preaching, and on the other hand, there were Gentiles who were so receptive to the mighty works of God that they mistakenly attributed God’s miracles to His preachers. I think this is often true for us when we try to live and share the Gospel in our own lives: when our way of living and behaving is challenging for our peers, we can be ridiculed for upsetting the status quo or called “judgmental” for sharing the Gospel to a world unwilling to hear God’s voice; but when our way of living leads to the blessings and peace which God promises to those who obey him, it is easy for people (and for us) to attribute our successes to our own efforts and to miss the presence of God.
In either scenario, we can learn from Sts Paul and Barnabas. When facing hostility, they have the courage to leave for a new area so they can continue spreading the Gospel; when falsely identified as gods because of the miracles Jesus works through them, they quickly correct their new associates and guide them to the correct understanding. The life of faith can be one of great highs and desperate lows, but both can be seen as an opportunity to trust God anew and to offer Him a new venue to work through you.
Notice also the presence of the miraculous which accompanies Paul’s preaching: many new believers receive the Holy Spirit throughout the region of Iconium, and Paul is able to heal a cripple in Lystra in a miracle which parallels the healing of the lame beggar which Peter performed in Acts 3. In these readings, we see the importance of discernment in prayer; Paul and Barnabas escaped persecution because they “learned of it and fled”, immediately reacting to the situation at hand. When Paul encountered the cripple, Paul “looked intently at him, and saw that he had faith to be healed.” Neither of these actions were haphazard, done without thought; these were intentional choices made by being attentive to the Holy Spirit, and they enabled the Word to spread. Let us not go through the motions in our prayer and especially during the Mass; we must be intentional to have the impact God desires for us to make.
Finally, we turn to the Gospel, taken from one of the last major teachings Jesus gives before his Passion. The message here is simple, but challenging: if we truly love Jesus, we will obey his commandments, and if we do not love him, we will not keep his commandments. Thankfully, Jesus promised us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light, but in this reading we are forced to realize the importance of our actions. If we do not keep the commandments, regardless of what we say or think, our actions demonstrate our lack of love. Though this would be hard to hear, we are also offered great consolation; if we keep the commandments, then we grow in love of Jesus, and Jesus and the Father will come to dwell in us. Jesus even promises us the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to continue to accompany us and remind us of all of Jesus’ teachings, so that we are always in the presence of God. This really is the theme of the readings for today; to be in the Presence of God, attentive to His Will, and to act out of our love of Him when He presents us the opportunity.
Be the Good
Do the Good