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Acts of the Apostles 28:16-20, 30-31

On our arrival in Rome Paul was allowed to stay in lodgings of his own with the soldier who guarded him.

After three days he called together the leading Jews. When they had assembled, he said to them, “Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and would have set me free, since they found me guilty of nothing involving the death penalty; but the Jews lodged an objection, and I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation to make against my own nation. That is why I have asked to see you and talk to you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel that I wear this chain.”

Paul spent the whole of the two years in his own rented lodging. He welcomed all who came to visit him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete freedom and without hindrance from anyone.

John 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them - the one who had leaned on his breast at the supper and had said to him, “Lord, who is it that will betray you?” Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.” The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, “He will not die”, but that, “If I want him to stay behind till I come.”

This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and has written them down, and we know that his testimony is true.

There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written.

I watched “Pirates of the Carribean : At World’s End” today. I was struck by one line that was said to Davy Jones, who used to be a man but was transformed into an octopus-like creature. Someone in the movie says to him something like: You have strayed from your purpose, and that has changed who you are.

There were many things that Jesus did that were not written in the gospel, St. John tells us. But what has been written in the gospel is the truth that is needed for all men to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the saviour of all mankind. All the other things that Jesus did were not relevant to the message that he had come to bring, and Jesus does not say anything about it. From time to time though, we hear “new discoveries” of what Jesus was supposed to have done. While these might be interesting, and even entertaining, they are novelties and have nothing to do with the mission of Jesus.

In a sense, this is reflected in the main message of today’s readings.

In the gospel reading, we see Peter asking something of Jesus, and Jesus replying something. We see that the main message of what Jesus was saying was lost on the people. They had heard something that Jesus did not say and this spreads rumours. In effect, Jesus was telling Peter, and is telling us today, “Don’t stray from your purpose.”

In today’s first reading, that the Jews had strayed from their purpose. Their mission was to bring the Messiah into the world, but because they strayed from their purpose, they missed the coming of the Messiah. Paul, on the other hand, does not stray from his purpose of proclaiming the Good News.

As Christians in the world today, we each have a God-given mission in life, and we are called to stick to our purpose. There are many things, good things in fact, that can make us stray from our purpose. For example, what may have started as a good means of evangelization, such as blogging for God, may make us so obsessed with gathering more hits for the blog that we stray from our purpose. Or what may have started as an interest in liturgy may become an obsession that turns into legalism that makes us stray from our purpose. Or what may have started as a love for tradition may become an obsession with tradition that makes us intolerant of others that makes us stray from our purpose.

Our purpose is not something that we create for ourselves. Rather, it is given to us by God and discovered by us. Let us all pray for the wisdom to discern our true purpose in life, and not stray from that purpose.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Reminders not to lose our sense of purpose.

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