Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
The Responsorial Psalm alerts us to the importance of celebrating the action of the risen Christ in the
Church: "Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom" (Psalm 145).
In Acts 14: 19-28 we see a pattern that both reveals the presence and assures the permanence of the risen Jesus in the Church.
Paul recovers from his stoning after being left for dead, and "the next day went on with Barnabas to Derbe," where they "proclaimed the good news.." This is a fulfillment of Jesus' promise in today's Gospel: "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.. I am going away, and I will come back to you." In the "risen" Paul Jesus continues to work.
In Derbe and other cities Paul and Barnabas "made a considerable number of disciples," and before they left "appointed presbyters for them in each church, and, with prayer and fasting, entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith." They left the new church communities provided with all the priestly functions necessary to assure their continuation (especially, but not solely, Eucharist.
On their return to Antioch they "called the church together and reported what God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles," doing what the Responsorial Psalm recommends: "Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom." Making known and celebrating the work of God in the Church is an important element in maintaining the community's faith and awareness of the risen Jesus in their midst.
In John 14: 27-31, Jesus predicted all of this and its fruits: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." Yes, the Church will suffer persecution and setbacks. But just as Paul and Barnabas "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,'" so Jesus had strengthened the apostles, saying, "I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe." Each time that the work of the Spirit in the Church shows that Jesus has indeed "come back," we need to celebrate it - because the "world must know" that the "ruler of this world" has "no power" over Jesus. To assure this, "Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom."
Initiative: Be a prophet. Recognize, report and celebrate the action of the risen Jesus in the Church - especially as revealed through setbacks and persecution.