First Reading: Acts 14:19-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
Gospel: John 14:27-31
In those days, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe. After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” They appointed presbyters for them in each Church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith. Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now accomplished. And when they arrived, they called the Church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Then they spent no little time with the disciples. (Acts 14:19-28)
In today's first reading, we see that Paul and Barnabas have not exactly had the easiest journey. Paul has been stoned and left for dead, they have covered a vast area (probably mostly on foot). They are facing much opposition from the Jews, most likely under slept and underfed, add to all of that they are also working tirelessly to build up the Church. But Paul and Barnabas have something important going for them, they understand how things work. In today's first reading from Acts, we share in both the hardship and in the joy that comes to Paul and Barnabas. One moment fighting for their lives, the next they are rejoicing with the other disciples about the success that the Lord has brought to them. They tell the people that the visit something very important, that we should all take notice of: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” Paul and Barnabas understand that as disciples of Christ that it will be necessary for us to go through hard times, but it is all necessary if we want to make it to heaven. This is why Paul and Barnabas went around telling the other Christians to persevere in their faith. I can just imagine their words, "Look guys, I know that it's hard, but trust us it will be worth it in the end."
How has your life been? Has it been easy? Has it been very difficult? The one thing for certain is that everyone has been through hard times, the question is how to we respond to those trials? How do we bounce back from those hardships? Who is it we rely on in our time of need? It is necessary for each of us to go undergo many hardships in this life, but it will be worth it all just to be able to live the rest of our life in heaven.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord thank you for all that you have blessed us with, and for all that you give to us. Thank you for our lives, and help us not to waste one moment of our day. Lord, we know that we will go through difficult times, help us to rely on you and to see them as necessary, all for your glory. Lord, we pray for all of our youth, that they can come to grow in love of you and to know their dignity. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.