Scripture Reflection - April 24, 2016

First Reading- Acts of the Apostles 14:21-27 | Responsorial Psalm- 145 Second Reading- Revelations 21:1-5 | Gospel- John 13:31-35

We are called! We are called to proclaim the Good News, to strengthen one another and encourage each other to keep the faith in all the circumstances of our lives. This was the message that Paul and Barnabas brought to the Antioch community. The first reading today gives us a glimpse of the lives of the early Apostles. The responsibility they had not only in going about continuing the mission of Jesus but also relating their experiences, thus by example building up the church and drawing in new disciples. They attributed all they did to the grace of God active in their lives opening the doors for all peoples most especially the Gentiles. So the question facing us today is “do we strengthen and encourage one another to wholeheartedly welcome all into our circle of life and faith?” Are we not also called to consider the missionary aspect of our mission and share with others the good that God has done in us as we too open the doors of faith to all we encounter? In scripture this is called the Acts of the Apostles which invites us to become disciples with our own Acts in our life and times.

​In the Book of Revelations we are motivated into action, to bring about the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem where no evil can overcome the salvation that Jesus’ death and resurrection has gained for us.   This will be a place where death, pain, sorrow, tears and mourning will be no more.   In this scripture we are invited to participate in bringing about this vision of a new world where all will be made new in the presence of the Creator.  We are called to be citizens of our faith with an attitude of Christian optimism; truly believing that with our God is in our midst. Living in a stance that our faith is stronger than our challenges, being positive that we make a difference by the grace of God and that we are never alone.

Both the first and second reading today bring us to the Gospel of John. In this season of resurrection we are reminded to love one another. This one command from Jesus sums up the disposition we need to nurture in ourselves as Christians in our present reality with the faith that this is the threshold to the New Jerusalem. We need to make visible our love not only in acts of kindness but intentionally loving those who are seemingly unlovable…those who intent to do us harm or think differently or those who create obstacles. This is not an easy command to embrace and follow nor should it be.

​Jesus knew the challenge of this in His own mission and ministry, so did the early apostles and so should we. This is what we are called to do…to love one another by being God’s citizens of the New Jerusalem in this world and the next. To be builders constructing a place that resides deep within our collective psyche, a place where love permeates every word, action and reaction, a place where the deepest expression of love is mercy.  This is the love we are called to express with our lives. It is the love that has been given to us by Jesus with the one mandate…to pass it on as gift to be given.  Love one another.

Joan Agro, OP

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