15 May 2017
Eventually with the connivance of the authorities a move was made by pagans as well as Jews to make attacks on the apostles and to stone them. When the apostles came to hear of this, they went off for safety to Lycaonia where, in the towns of Lystra and Derbe and in the surrounding country, they preached the Good News.
A man sat there who had never walked in his life, because his feet were crippled from birth; and as he listened to Paul preaching, he managed to catch his eye. Seeing that the man had the faith to be cured, Paul said in a loud voice, ‘Get to your feet – stand up’, and the cripple jumped up and began to walk.
When the crowd saw what Paul had done they shouted in the language of Lycaonia, ‘These people are gods who have come down to us disguised as men.’ They addressed Barnabas as Zeus, and since Paul was the principal speaker they called him Hermes. The priests of Zeus-outside-the-Gate, proposing that all the people should offer sacrifice with them, brought garlanded oxen to the gates. When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening they tore their clothes, and rushed into the crowd, shouting, ‘Friends, what do you think you are doing? We are only human beings like you. We have come with good news to make you turn from these empty idols to the living God who made heaven and earth and the sea and all that these hold. In the past he allowed each nation to go its own way; but even then he did not leave you without evidence of himself in the good things he does for you: he sends you rain from heaven, he makes your crops grow when they should, he gives you food and makes you happy.’ Even this speech, however, was scarcely enough to stop the crowd offering them sacrifice.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them
will be one who loves me;
and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I shall love him and show myself to him.’
Judas – this was not Judas Iscariot – said to him, ‘Lord, what is all this about? Do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’ Jesus replied:
‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him and make our home with him.
Those who do not love me do not keep my words.
And my word is not my own:
it is the word of the one who sent me.
I have said these things to you while still with you;
but the Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all I have said to you.’
“If anyone loves me he will keep my word”
Having been in sales for my whole banking career, I am struck by how superstitious many well-educated people are. I remember being very surprised the first time I realised this; I had patted a colleague’s shoulder and he had gotten very upset with me. I later found out that in doing so, I would affect his ‘sales luck’. The remedy? It WAS a long time ago, but I believe it involved walking around his chair a certain number of times.
Something similar happened to me many years ago. A good friend of mine had taken a course in a certain new-age type healing technique and had volunteered to help me. I subsequently went through the session and strangely found myself very much at peace and found that things in my life started going well. I began to attribute those good things to the healing session with my friend. To cut a long story short, with some spiritual direction, I realised that I had begun holding something else in place of God and my faith in what He does for me in my life.
The temptation in this modern world of ours is to forget about God, attributing both good and bad to himself. Like the first reading in Acts today, despite God’s presence in our lives, and the fact being proclaimed in our faces, we resist recognising the important role God plays.
Jesus, in today’s gospel, asks to receive His commandments and to keep them in our hearts. Through the temptations we face everyday, we need to keep God in our hearts, listening to the whispers of the Holy Spirit in guiding us on our journey.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer – Father God, we pray that we may always keep You and Jesus in our hearts. May we always remember to turn to You in all our times of need and celebration.
Thanksgiving – We thank You Father, for loving us in spite of our lack of faith and gratitude.