The Responsorial Psalm reassures us that even when things seem to be going badly: "God is king of all the earth" (Psalm 47).
Acts 18: 9-18 shows us the Christians being protected from persecution for a change! The Lord tells Paul not to be afraid; that in Corinth, "No one will at- tack you or harm you" And he adds, "There are many of my people in this city."
Sometimes we are so conscious of those who oppose Christianity, or who are indifferent to religion, that we forget there are many people who are on our side - because they are on Christ's side. And God will use them to help us, just as he uses us to help them.
We can't help wondering whether the Roman proconsul, Gallio, was one of those Jesus called "my
people." He did refuse to prosecute Paul. Was this just from his political philosophy, or was God moving him? It makes us wonder how many people who are "unchurched," or who profess either no faith in God or a very vague belief in him, are in fact friends of Jesus without knowing it. These may be what we call "anonymous Christians," those who have been re- born in grace by "Baptism of desire." Or they may be just people with good dispositions whom God is leading toward full surrender in faith. The point is that "God is king of all the earth," and we should not think his influence is limited only to professing Christians.
In John 16: 20-23 Jesus is urging us to look beyond whatever grief or trouble our religion is causing us, and to focus on the fruit of it. "When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world." We may not be able to identify the precise benefits our particular suffering is giving to the world - or to us - but we know that in and through all of us who are the Church, Christ is constantly taking flesh in the world, rising from the dead to live in us, being formed, "growing to full stature" in us and in the world (see Ephesians 4:13; Romans 8: 18-23; Galatians 4:19). This is our work in the Church: to let Christ live in the world; to give him our bodies as a "living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1), so that with us, in us and through us he might continue his presence and mission on earth. This is the purpose and passion of our lives that makes every pain and difficulty unimportant, the consequence that renders the cost inconsequential. "God is king of all the earth." And in the end, he will reign in every heart.
Initiative: Be a prophet. Embody Christ courageously. Give him flesh in action.