Acts of the Apostles 14:19-28
Some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium, and turned the people against the apostles. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the town, thinking he was dead. The disciples came crowding round him but, as they did so, he stood up and went back to the town. The next day he and Barnabas went off to Derbe.
Having preached the Good News in that town and made a considerable number of disciples, they went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch. They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. ‘We all have to experience many hardships’ they said ‘before we enter the kingdom of God.’ In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.
They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch, where they had originally been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.
On their arrival they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the pagans. They stayed there with the disciples for some time.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you,
a peace the world cannot give,
this is my gift to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.
If you loved me you would have been glad to know that I am going to the Father,
for the Father is greater than I.
I have told you this now before it happens,
so that when it does happen you may believe.
I shall not talk with you any longer,
because the prince of this world is on his way.
He has no power over me,
but the world must be brought to know
that I love the Father
and that I am doing exactly what the Father told me.’
They gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how He had opened the door of faith to the pagans.
The line above strikes me because besides writing these reflections, I hardly share with others what God has done in my life. This is mainly because I struggle to find God in my daily living. After all, today is just like yesterday, and yesterday is just like the day before. I wake up, I rush to get ready for work/study, I try my best to fulfill as much as possible on my list of things to do, and then I go to bed feeling exhausted and preparing myself for the same meaningless day to repeat itself. I have tried to find God each day and there are times when I have succeeded. Mostly, however, I have failed. To avoid disappointment, I now hardly try.
Unlike me, it seems as though Paul and Barnabas find God in their daily lives with ease. The manner in which they shared with the church how God was with them and how they witnessed Him moving the hearts of the pagans makes me question why it is so easy for them to see God and so difficult for me?
Putting myself in their shoes, I think that I would only see God opening the door of faith to non-believers when I see the non-believers deeply moved by the spirit, motivated to embrace the faith, and wanting to become a Christian. Also, I think I will only be able to see God working in my life if He reveals Himself in either big and/or novel ways. Specifically, something unique or outside of my ordinary routines must happen before I acknowledge that God is present in my life.
Perhaps the reason why Paul and Barnabas could see God in all that they did was because they did not have the same standards/expectations as I do. Perhaps for them, having a non-believer sit down and listen to what they had to share (even if the non-believer did not express interest to become a Christian or to know God even more) was a sign to them that they were witnessing the early beginnings of faith for that particular individual. Perhaps Paul and Barnabas were able to see the beauty of God in ordinary and familiar routines, such as through how God took care of them by giving them food to eat each day.
I, on the other hand, have a tendency to overlook what is already present and seek more. Where once I yearned to be able to study psychology, now that I have achieved it, I easily take it for granted and concentrate my energy and time pursuing new goals that engage my interest. Where I am assured of my family’s love, I take them for granted and do not spend much time with them; choosing instead to chase goals that have yet to become realities in my life. However, all these blessings that I overlook and take for granted remain goals and wishes in some others’ lives.
If you, like me, struggle to find God in your daily life, let us take a moment to reflect on the “ordinary” blessings already present. Let us also notice the simple gestures of faith – we might not see faith manifested in concrete gestures (e.g., someone being baptized), but we will encounter the authentic faith of each person in their journey at this moment in time.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Jean Cheng)
Prayer: Lord, change my heart so that instead of chasing endless goals, I will instead prefer to celebrate my life and the lives of others.
Thanksgiving: We thank God for those in life who are able to celebrate the simple and the ordinary.
Wed, 25 May – Acts of the Apostles 15:1-6; John 15:1-8; Memorial for St Bede the Venerable, Priest & Doctor of the Church; Memorial for St Gregory VII, Pope; Memorial for St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi, Virgin
Thu, 26 May – Acts of the Apostles 15:7-21; John 15:9-11
Fri, 27 May – Acts of the Apostles 15:22-31; John 15:12-17; Memorial for St Augustine of Cantebury, Bishop
Sat, 28 May – Acts of the Apostles 16:1-10; John 15:18-21
Sun, 29 May – Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8.14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21; Sixth Sunday of Easter