In times of confusion, turmoil, and conflict, the relief we seek is simply the absence of confusion, turmoil, and conflict. But such an absence is not peace. It is merely the eye of the storm. And it will pass, bringing in its wake much of the same, if not more, confusion, turmoil, and conflict. Peace rather is something that emerges from within. It is a confidence, an assurance in the faithfulness and support of One who is above all confusion, turmoil, and conflict. This is the peace Jesus offers us as a gift. And it can be found in the hearts and minds of believers even as they experience confusion, turmoil, and conflict.
Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra, the setting of yesterday’s as well as today’s passage from the Acts of the Apostles. Yesterday, Paul heals a man who was lame from birth. The response of the people was to acclaim Paul and Barnabas as gods. They are appalled, and rend their garments, and plead with the crowds, “We are but human beings like yourselves.” Some people would welcome such celebrity instead of oppose it. But they knew better. In today’s reading, some people opposed to Paul and Barnabas stir up the crowd. They stone Paul and drag him outside the city. Paul revives and walks right back in. Whoah! Many among us would keep walking, or even run, in the other direction.
Paul and Barnabas continue on to other Christian communities, encouraging them, teaching them, praying with them, appointing presbyters to oversee their communities, and returned to Antioch where they first started. They recounted their successes and setbacks, pointing to God’s role in everything.
What kind of courage do we need in order to give faithful witness to the Gospel under challenging circumstances? The level of adrenaline coursing through our veins will indicate assurance of both success and risk in our efforts. But only Jesus gives peace of mind and heart, a confidence and self-assurance that we are not powerless or on our own. He is setting the stage for Pentecost.
This mass was offered for the repose of +Gary Kessler.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020