From the Word of the Day
Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth. (Acts 13: 46-47)
The nascent disagreements between Paul and Barnabas are probably tied to the approach chosen by Paul to rigorously depart from the Jews. There is no happy ending to these arguments. They are a wound that preceded and also allowed a transformation. Paul is in Antioch. Although he had first privileged the Jews of the synagogue, in the face of their refusal, he declares that he will decisively turn to the pagans. As he arrives in a new city, he will never stop to look for and meet the Jewish community first. But from now on, every qualm about preaching to the pagans is definitively dissipated.
The cost of this clear strategic vision is a friendship, a tie that could have evolved differently. But even this counts and, if it is not lived with resentment, allows for the generation of new energy and possibilities. Jesus’ disciples knew that He was incarnated as a sign of contradiction and this was impressed upon them. Sometimes, doing God’s will obliges us to follow strange roads, little understandable. They obligate us to live humbly with our weaknesses even as we work marvels! The quote from Isaiah gives meaning to the waiting for and coming of the Messiah and of every evangelizing action: bring salvation to the ends of the earth.
Lord, teach us to love our Creator. Take from us every form of fear and anguish and teach us to receive life as a true gift, even if the chalice is often bitter. Help us to love You and to make You loved. Let all our actions aim to make You loved, giver of Life, Omnipotent generator of energy.
Increase in us that grain of faith that You have given us. We want to breathe in You, work in You, love in You. Help us to discern what is truly essential and what is superfluous. Teach us to abandon ourselves to Your guidance and make us trust Your Infinite Omnipotence.
The Voice of Pope Francis
We repeat that evangelization is essentially connected with the proclamation of the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ or have always rejected Him. Many of them secretly look for God, moved by nostalgia for His face, even in countries of ancient Christian tradition. Everyone has the right to receive the Gospel. Christians have the duty to proclaim it without excluding anyone, not as those who impose a new obligation, but as those who share a joy marked by a beautiful horizon that offers a desirable banquet. The Church does not grow by proselytism but by attraction.