On the Road Together for Sunday, May 12
Fourth Sunday of Easter
by Tracy Rodenborn, Director of RCIA
"Gospel of the Holy Spirit"
The first readings from the Acts of the Apostles during the Easter Season (Year C) present us with scenes from the beginning of the Church that we probably do not know too well. We hear of the mission of Paul and Barnabas. Paul met Barnabas in Antioch. Barnabas is described as a
good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith
(Acts 11:24). The two were sent out on mission together to spread the Good News of Christ – what is called the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas to Cyprus and Asia MInor. Paul and Barnabas begin by visiting the synagogue, and by their second visit, they preach the Christian message about Jesus’ death and Resurrection and what it means. We see in this Scripture passage that the Christian message was not well received among the Jews in this area. Like our reading last week with Peter and the other apostles, the Jewish authorities are offended and outraged by the message of the apostles. They persecute Paul and Barnabas and lead a campaign against them, even expelling them from that territory, but not before Paul and Barnabas defend the Christian message to the Gentiles and gain them as followers.
I have mentioned before that the Acts of the Apostles is often called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit. Here, we see the Holy Spirit leading and guiding the early church to places and people that were beyond the imagination of the early disciples. It was a surprise, and I am sure a disappointment to them, that the Christian message was not well received among the Jews on their missionary journeys. But with the power of the Holy Spirit, they found that the Christian message was being well received among the Gentiles, and the growth of the Church was primarily among those who were not Jews. While we want to always be careful not to see these passages as a condemnation of Judaism, what we do see is the Holy Spirit guiding the church through difficulty, persecution and to new places and ideas that were not envisioned before. The decision of the apostles to include Gentiles as followers of Christ allowed Christianity to spread beyond what they imagined and to reach “the ends of the earth.”
When we think about the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the church, we see how the Holy Spirit leads and guides us to places beyond what we could have been imagined. Another characteristic we see from the Holy Spirit over and over again in Acts is the JOY associated with those who are filled with the Holy Spirit. We saw this last week when Peter and the disciples were called before the Sanhedrin. Once dismissed by them, the apostles rejoiced! In today’s reading, even after not being successful with the Jewish converts in Pisidia, they shook the dust from their feet and moved on,
filled with joy
and the Holy Spirit.
Where in our lives today is the Holy Spirit
guiding us to things we can not imagine?
How is the Holy Spirit filling us with joy?
Readings for May 12 Sunday readings:
on Thursday, May 9 at 4:27PM