Acts 11: 19-26; “For a whole year they met with the Church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.....”
Psalm 87: 1b – 3, 4-5, 6-7 “…My home is within you.”
John 10: 22-30 “…‘My sheep hear my voice.’...‘My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’”
St. Joseph the Worker: Today we honor good St. Joseph as the worker, the foster parent of Jesus who taught him the trade to be a carpenter. We are reminded that Jesus grew in holiness in a very supportive environment which included him learning the trade of carpentry. Dear St. Joseph: bless us and all our work today. Help those of us who are seeking work, to find that which will support and nurture us anew. Help those of us who have grown discouraged in our search, so that we might become productive people again. Amen.
From the first reading in Acts we follow Barnabus to Antioch in Syria where he went to see about the spreading of the Good News about Christ, died, buried and risen. It had been reported that the people there were already becoming believers as they were talking about Jesus Christ. St. Stephen’s martyrdom helped to disperse the believers and the good news of Jesus Christ spread with them. Barnabus, originally from Cyprus had earlier in Acts surrendered all of his possessions to the Apostles for the good of the community. After confirming these findings he went to Tarsus to bring Paul back with him, and they spent a year in Antioch teaching large numbers of people. It is in Antioch that “the disciples are first called Christians.” (Acts 11:26) The Collegeville Bible Commentary suggests it might be because of the large influx of Gentiles, so this name distinguished them from the Jewish communities. But, seeing this as where the name Christian may have begun caused me to reflect on the privilege of being called by the name Christian; along with all of the qualities of character that name should hold.
In today’s Gospel, we find Jesus telling us that His sheep know him, and follow Him. And that He will not lose any that the Father has given Him. It is good to pair this thought to today’s first reading as we see Christianity spreading. Like the people who heard Jesus speak, the people of Antioch have also heard Jesus’ voice through the disciples who were commissioned to teach what they had learned. What they heard was processed in their hearts. Like them we can feel just as confident today that the good Lord will never lose us. It is hard not to think about all the good that naturally flowed out of St. Stephen’s martyrdom. The Good News flushed out rushing so that more could receive the gift. From hardship and sacrifice came much good. It is difficult to look at hardship. But doing so can help us look deeper inside ourselves, to a place absent of selfishness and full of what’s needed to thrive as a Christian.
During this Fourth Week of Easter, let us continue to marvel at
all of the abundance that comes with Faith, and be thankful to those
who have passed that Faith on from century to century. May we continue
to grow in Faith so that we might continue passing on to those we
meet along the way, and therefore to future generations.
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