Daily Reflection

From a Creighton Student's Perspective

May 21, 2011

Damian Olsen

1st Year Medical Student

Acts 13:44-52
Ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4
Jn 14:7-14

If you have ever done mission work, you know how difficult it can be to share the Word of God with strangers. People can be reluctant to accepting a foreign faith or belief. Sometimes they are down right hostile towards anyone trying to alter their reality. It may be because a person's faith life is so essential to who they are as an individual, but whatever the reasoning Paul and Barnabas weren’t afraid to share God’s love. They were great missionaries for the early church and won far more souls than we could hope to. The funny thing is that the hostility they met didn’t come from the Gentiles, but the Jews. Paul and Barnabas were preaching for the salvation of all, not just the Jews, who believed they were the chosen people of God. The Jews who heard the words of these great disciples of Christ grew jealous, as if there wasn’t enough salvation to go around. But Paul and Barnabas did as Jesus had commanded them, shaking the dust from their feet in protest and moving on.

The jealousy of the Jews in this story is horrible, but I’m sure we’ve all seen a hint of the same selfish thoughts in ourselves. I know I have struggled with this in my heart. We begin to get prideful and arrogant in our faith, thinking God is going to bless us more for our righteous deeds and service to him. In this, we begin to look more like the Pharisees of Jesus’ time than his faithful disciples. This is something we must be very vigilant in guarding against, as Christ has called us to move away from our self-centeredness to become others-centered. We can also learn something from how Paul and Barnabas react in this situation. Rather than getting disgruntled and condemning these people, they simple walk away. We have all met hostility for our faith and beliefs at one time or another. In those instances of evangelism where we find hardness in others' hearts, it sometimes is enough to just walk the other way. Knowing that you have planted seeds of faith in them, no matter how rocky the soil, your persecution and suffering can be united with Christ's on the cross.

Jesus speaks of his perfect unity with God the Father in our Gospel reading for today. The communion within the Holy Trinity is so great that those blessed to see Jesus in the flesh are truly seeing God the Father. This is a hard reality to grasp, a great mystery of our faith. The amazing part is that we are offered the same encounter Jesus’ disciples experienced every single day. It is overwhelming to think of the countless blessings each of us experience in our daily lives. However, one of the greatest blessings given to each and every one of us is the true presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. In gazing upon the precious Body and Blood of Christ in Mass we are in communion with Jesus and God the Father in the same way his disciples were thousands of years ago. And our good Lord does not stop there; he allows us to receive him that our stony, jealous hearts can be made more like his perfect heart. By this heavenly food our souls are nourished so that we may become more like our Creator and Savior. Jesus encourages us in today’s Word, promising that we will do great things with our faith; all we need to do is believe in him.

So today let us shed our jealous, prideful hearts to become great evangelists like Paul and Barnabas. May it be our prayer that the intimate unity we share with our Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist will enliven us and give us the strength to be more like him. If we only believe in Christ and receive his Body and Blood all our works will bear great fruit in his name. Our hearts should abound in thanksgiving for this great grace given to each of us. Let us strive to enter into the unity Christ shared with his Father in heaven for the sake of the glory of his name.

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