30Apr 30 April 2013. Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Easter

Acts 14:19ff. Jews persuade the crowds to stone Paul and leave him for dead; but he survives, and continues his ministry.

Jn 14:27ff. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.

First Reading: Acts 14:19-28

But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.

After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch. There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.” And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.

Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. And they stayed there with the disciples for some time.

Gospel: John 14:27-31

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.

Living in Jesus, our Way of Life

Jesus speaks of going away; of returning to the Father. He has come into our world in obedience to the Father’s will, and now at the bidding of the Father he directs his face toward the cross, resurrection and ascension. Jesus will be reunited with the Father and the Spirit. Earlier, Philip had begged Jesus; “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Still earlier, Thomas had argued with Jesus: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said, as seen in the gospel of last Friday, “I am going to prepare a place for you … I am the way.”

One of the ways by which we follow Jesus into his life with the Father and the Spirit, is to allow for prayer in the deepest part of ourselves. Here is where God’s temple stands; this is where we hear God’s word  that requires our obedience. To disobey would be to neglect our inmost selves as created by God.

Jesus is the way to the Father. We can know that way only by faith, and faith means a surrender out of love to the unknown. This unknown aspect of faith becomes all the more mysterious and undecipherable because it is not a quality of an object but the love of a person, or rather of three united persons, the Father, the Son and the Spirit.

Like Paul and Barnabas the door is opened for us to achieve our mission in life. But following such ideals entails some suffering! As St. Paul said to the Christians in Antioch: “We must undergo many trials if we are to enter into the reign of God.” Paul could speak from experience. He had just been stoned and left for dead at Pisidia. It may have been easier for Paul to face persecution than to bear with jealousy which prompted the persecution. We are called by Jesus to peace. And peace means forgiving others, bearing with other’s differences, even misunderstanding and jealousy, and getting on with our mission in life.