When Paul and Barnabas heal the sick and lame, the people recognize the divinity in the act. They think the men are gods come to earth. That happens in their religion. Their gods can take any shape and appear any time in any way. The crowds call them Zeus and Hermes and try to worship them. That makes sense in their culture. The men have to calm the crowds (and they can barely restrain their offering sacrifices). They tell them that they are men, not gods. They explain that the work they do is from God himself. They themselves do not have the power to heal, but when they have faith and God works through them, God can do anything. They do not accept the worship or claim any miraculous powers; they rightly put all the praise and attention to God. Like the psalm says, “Not to us, but to your name give Glory.”
Jesus is doing something similar in the gospel. He is explaining how he is speaking God’s word and doing God’s work. He says, “The word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.” In the first reading the Greeks see human men and by their actions think they are gods. In the Gospels, the disciples see God, and think he is a human man. He tells them that his words come straight from God, but they question his purpose. He is asked why he reveals himself to them, but not to everyone. But once he reveals himself to them, and they understand and keep his word, then the word can spread: like Paul to the Greeks. If Jesus’ friends love him and do what he asks, then they will be blessed by him and by his Father. When Paul and Barnabas heal in God’s name, the divinity of this act is apparent, and they can use it as a teaching and conversion experience. When the Greeks see that two humans – just like they are human – can heal through the power of God, they can recognize the power of God. Through the disciples’ understanding that Jesus is God, they can reveal that to everyone.
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