Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
May 21st, 2011
George Butterfield

School of Law Library
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Saturday in the Fourth Week of Easter
[284] Acts 13:44-52
Psalm 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4
John 14:7-14

Today is Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter and the first reading is another powerful text from the Acts of the Apostles. It illustrates what happens when a group forgets what its mission is. On a given sabbath the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. Paul and Barnabas were prepared to proclaim that word. Yet, there were people who were jealous and violently contradicted what they said. Surely this opposition came from pagans or those who hated God. No, it came from the religious leaders. Paul quotes the Old Testament where God had said that Israel was made to be a light to the Gentiles, an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth. Yet, they had forgotten their mission and were totally turned in on themselves. The thought of Paul and Barnabas actually reaching out to “outsiders” and bringing them into the kingdom infuriated them. How ironic! The religious leaders, the insiders, are angry that people are turning to God and those who were far away from God delighted to hear the word of God, glorified God’s word, and were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

The psalm continues this refrain that all the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God. Jesus had told his disciples that they were to take the Good News to the ends of the earth. This was the mission of Israel from the beginning. The psalmist says that God has done his wondrous deeds and made his salvation known in the sight of the nations, the Gentiles. This does not mean that he has cast off his people Israel. In fact, he has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness towards them. It’s just that God loves his whole creation. He wants all the ends of the earth to see his salvation and sing joyfully to the Lord. This is what Paul and Barnabas worked for and this is what the religious leaders, the very ones who were given that mission by God, opposed.

The gospel reading presents the uniquely Christian view of how a person comes to know or see God. Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples, wants to know God. He wants to see God. Jesus told him that he already knew God and had already seen him. But how is that possible? Philip knew Jesus. Philip had seen Jesus. Therefore, he knew God and had seen God. That is a bold statement. If it is true, how could one choose not to follow Jesus? According to Jesus, he is in the Father and the Father is in him. The words Jesus speaks are not his words but the words of the Father. The works he does are the works of the Father. Everything he does is done by the Father through him to bring glory to Jesus, his Son. Jesus is on the eve of his departure and he tells Philip that his disciples will do even greater works than he has done. In fact, anything they ask in his name, he will do. Why? Because the Father still wants to bring glory to his Son.

What is our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ? Do we sometimes forget? Are we navel-gazing as the world continues in darkness? When we bring the light of Christ to the nations, we fulfill our calling. When we point people to Jesus, we point people to God. Blessed John Paul II said it well in words meant for us but that surely also apply to our mission to our neighbor: “Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ.”

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