After the martyrdom of Stephen, those scattered by the persecution of Christians primarily of Greek background arrive in other cities and communities. They first bring the Good News to Jews only. Then in Antioch they began speaking to Greeks as well, code for Gentiles, who are receptive and seek membership in the church community. The church in Jerusalem hears of this development and show their approval by sending Barnabas to Antioch. He finds Saul and they establish a ministry to the Gentiles.
Jesus tells his adversaries, “You do not believe because you are not among my sheep.” An important requisite sign of those who do belong to his sheep is a receptivity to his message. In essence, those who are receptive to his message belong to him. It is the Father who calls and sends them to the Son. And the Son does not reject those the Father sends. “My Father … is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.”
We do not get a say who the Father calls and sends to be part of the flock, if we seek to continue the mission of Jesus the Good Shepherd. We proclaim the Gospel. God alone calls and draws people to faith. In our present set-up, the church has become a complex structure that over many generations has developed certain customs and traditions that seem to be more of a hindrance than a help. We still need to listen for the Shepherd’s voice, and follow him. Sometimes the Shepherd might lead us along new and unpopular paths. Will we trust him? The church wasn’t always supportive of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. But they soon learned it wasn’t up to them. It is the Father who calls and sends. Who is the Father calling and sending to us today? Are we listening? Are we receptive?
We celebrated mass today for the repose of +Michael Garfunkel.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020