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Homily for Tues of the 5th Wk of Easter, 09 May 2023, Jn 14,27-31a

In our first reading, Paul and Barnabas are returning to their home base at Antioch in Syria, after completing their first missionary journey. Their basic report is—“mission accomplished.” And yet, if you look back at the earlier parts of the story, you would note that a lot of unpleasant things had happened to them during their mission. The most serious one had to do with Mark, the third guy in their mission team of three—how he had abandoned them because of an apparent misunderstanding. There were also several experiences of rejection. At Lystra, we are told that Paul had been stoned, dragged out of town and left for dead but had miraculously recovered.

They had faced a lot of challenges but their overall assessment of the mission was positive. Luke tells us they reported to the community “all that God had done through them, and how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”

It’s as if all the major problems that they had encountered while on mission were nothing but minor issues in relation to what they believed God was achieving through them. I think there is something there that all Church workers engaged in mission like ourselves should learn—namely, that if we want to achieve our goals, we have to learn to rise above ourselves. That we constantly remind ourselves that the mission is not about us. It is not about what we do but “what God is doing through us.”

People who can look at things from that perspective will not be easily unsettled or overcome by anxiety, especially when things seem to be going wrong or are not turning out the way they had planned them. They will know how to relativize, even the most painful experiences that they’ve been through by viewing them in the “grand scheme of things” as they’d say in English.

While it is true that they had been rejected by their own fellow Jews in some synagogues, the rejection had led to the opening of new doors. That is what Luke means when he says “God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” All they needed to do was to refocus their attention to those who were willing to listen to the message that they were proclaiming as good news. God closes some doors, only to open up new windows or even pathways.

This seems to be the key to the peace that Jesus is promising as gift to his disciples. The kind of peace that Jesus is offering is not one that will be free from adversities, but rather one that will learn to navigate through them. The best image for this that comes to mind is that of Jesus asleep in a boat in the midst of a storm, or walking casually on rough waters and being mistaken for a ghost but revealing himself as “I am”—God at work and achieving his purpose even in what seems to be the worst of times.

Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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