10 May 2017
The word of God continued to spread and to gain followers. Barnabas and Saul completed their task and came back from Jerusalem, bringing John Mark with them.
In the church at Antioch the following were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. One day while they were offering worship to the Lord and keeping a fast, the Holy Spirit said, ‘I want Barnabas and Saul set apart for the work to which I have called them.’ So it was that after fasting and prayer they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
So these two, sent on their mission by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. They landed at Salamis and proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; John acted as their assistant.
Jesus declared publicly:
‘Whoever believes in me
believes not in me
but in the one who sent me,
and whoever sees me,
sees the one who sent me.
I, the light, have come into the world,
so that whoever believes in me
need not stay in the dark any more.
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them faithfully,
it is not I who shall condemn him,
since I have come not to condemn the world,
but to save the world.
He who rejects me and refuses my words has his judge already:
the word itself that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.
For what I have spoken does not come from myself;
no, what I was to say,
what I had to speak,
was commanded by the Father who sent me,
and I know that his commands mean eternal life.
And therefore what the Father has told me
is what I speak.’
I want Barnabas and Saul set apart for the work to which I have called them
Would we believe that we have been set aside for great things? Sometimes our lives go on auto-pilot mode and we feel that there is a routine and rhythm for things which we can find comfort and solace in. This is especially so when our lives are going on without much difficulty. In times of turmoil, we often crave for the ‘good old days’. We are reminded that Christianity is about challenges and about pushing us forward towards uncharted territory so as to continue with our mission to proclaim the Word of God to the people who we meet.
The Bible is silent on the response of St Paul and Barnabas towards the commission which the Holy Spirit has imposed upon them but if it was me, I would be really scared because of the uncertainty which may come upon me. The Holy Spirit chose the two of them to continue the work of proclaiming the work of salvation to all around them. This meant that they had to put aside their own plans and allow God to work within them. It is almost like a dying to your own will and letting God take ownership of it.
This is not an easy task, but something which we must do. It is not that we should not feel comfortable with whatever we are doing or feeling but we should instead always remember what we are instructed to do at the end of Mass to “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your lives”. This does not mean we have to go to a foreign land to share the Word of God although that is one way which we can do it. The mission land is right before us – our workplaces, homes and even the best friends who we meet. Christianity is about being missionaries to people who have not heard the Word of God and we are called to proclaim this Word today.
(Today’s Oxygen by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, give us the boldness to spread the love we have for you.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who preach the Gospel fearlessly