Grace to you and Happy Easter season!
In today’s reflection, I share a lesson from Saint Paul’s first missionary journey about being sources of strengthening for others.
In Acts 14:21-27, we read of Paul and Barnabas’ missionary activities in Derbe and their return to the places (Lystra, Iconium and Antioch)where they had earlier preached. Derbe was a remote border city in Galatia. Remember that at the time, Galatia was a Roman City.
One would notice two crucial actions Paul and Barnabas undertook in their missionary work as recorded in the above verses. They preached (Acts 14:21) as well as strengthened the believers (Acts 14:22).
These are crucial aspects of the work of evangelization. What do we do when we come to church on Sundays? We worship the Lord, don’t we? We proclaim the gospel and, preach or hear the sermons or homilies. We pray together and break the bread (Holy Communion). In these, we hear God’s Word inspire us. Sometimes, those words call us to a change of life, conversion or ongoing conversion. Other times, those words serve as encouragement to confirm us in our faith.
Sometimes, we ignore the aspect of strengthening. We pay so much attention to the conversion part. We evangelizers have to strengthen the faith of believers. They need words of hope to carry on. They need inspiring words to press on.
In the world, many believers hear lots of bad and depressing news. They are persecuted. They are put down. In churches, they should be lifted up. They should be motivated. They should be inspired. Believers, wherever they find themselves, should be channels of this Christ-centered strengthening.
In this instance, I would want us to see the role of the evangelizer as that of a coach. The coach inspires the clients to discover their gifts and talents and maximize the gifts they have, what they have received.
We learn from Saint Paul how to do both—1) preach conversion unto Christ; and 2) strengthen the converted/believers. In our Catholic tradition, we call it faith deepening. In faith deepening, we are shedding more light on what we have received. We are also inspiring and strengthening the believers to go deeper into the good things they’ve been given by the Lord.
We want them to become proudly Christian, proudly Catholic, proudly believers. For one to hold their head high and walk the talk of confident discipleship, one has to come off from the position of spiritual strength. One has to be strengthened by the Lord and God’s word. One has to be enthused.
I pray that we learn from Saint Paul how to be witnesses of the love of God and how to be channels of the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Readings: Fifth Sunday of Easter, C: Acts 14: 21-27; Rev 21:1-5; Jn 13:31-35]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.