From Cilicia Paul went to Derbe, and then on to Lystra. Here there was a disciple called Timothy, whose mother was a Jewess who had become a believer; but his father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy, and Paul, who wanted to have him as a travelling companion, had him circumcised. This was on account of the Jews in the locality where everyone knew his father was a Greek.
As they visited one town after another, they passed on the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, with instructions to respect them.
So the churches grew strong in the faith, as well as growing daily in numbers.
They travelled through Phrygia and the Galatian country, having been told by the Holy Spirit not to preach the word in Asia. When they reached the frontier of Mysia they thought to cross it into Bithynia, but as the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them, they went through Mysia and came down to Troas.
One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and appealed to him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the Good News.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘If the world hates you,
remember that it hated me before you.
If you belonged to the world,
the world would love you as its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
because my choice withdrew you from the world,
therefore the world hates you.
Remember the words I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master.
If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too;
if they kept my word, they will keep yours as well.
But it will be on my account that they will do all this,
because they do not know the one who sent me.’
His kindness endures forever
It can be a challenge to look at both the kindness of the Lord and the reasons why we are persecuted as Christians at the same time. Why does a kind God allow us to be persecuted? Today is the right time for us to realise that Jesus, the Son of God, was subject to great persecution and after Him, many others suffered. From the martyrs St Stephen and St Peter, right through to this day when we see many Christians denied their rights to citizenship and worship and, in some cases, killed because they are Christians.
I grew up in a small town in Malaysia and studied in a convent school which was started by the I.J sisters. As the years went by, there has been a decrease in their numbers up until the time I entered school. We had a grotto of Our Lady facing the front gate which we passed by a few times a day. Before I began schooling, I remembered stopping by at the grotto to pray with my aunts. In school, we were told to never pray at the grotto and because I never thought much of it as a child, I never even entered the grotto area to play, out of obedience.
Today, as an adult, I am infuriated of being robbed of the right to pray at the shrine of My Mother as I feel that my life as a student would have been very enriched if I sought her daily. In today’s gospel, Jesus reminds us that we will be subjected to suffering such as this. For some of us, the suffering could be in the form of an illness, loss of a loved one or a job, a failed marriage, financial distress, being bullied in school and being marginalised, or even being entrenched in habitual sin or addiction. Whatever our suffering and trials are, let us offer them to the Lord who has suffered first. Let us be reminded of His kindness, His faithfulness and His majestic enthronement which reigns above all people and powers who persecute and challenge us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Father God, today we forgive all those who have caused us pain and suffering. Remind us each day that when we suffer, we are reunited with your suffering. Protect our brothers and sisters who suffer.
Thanksgiving: Lord Jesus we seek what is above, we seek your face and the hope we have in you, O risen Lord.