JESUS IS REVEALED BY HIS WORKS
The Christians of Antioch, the first to be called “Christians” as disciples of Christ, were of two kinds: those Greek-speaking of Jewish origin, who had fled to Antioch from the persecuted Church in Jerusalem. They communicated their faith to their fellow Jews, but they must have spoken of their faith in Christ also to some people of pagan roots who accepted Christ, now no longer as the promised Messiah but as the Lord of all. This placed the Church in a dilemma. Were these marginal Christians only second-class followers of Christ? Barnabas, filled with the Holy Spirit, recognized God’s grace at work in them. Where the official Church of Jerusalem hesitates, Barnabas reads the signs of the times. To him, it is God’s will that these people accept Christ as their Lord. He faces and solves the missionary problems locally and is not afraid to go new ways.
Lord God, our Father,
the Spirit of Jesus calls us, as he called your Son,
to abandon our old selves and our old world
to be free for new life and growth.
Forgive us our fear and hesitations,
lead us out of our worn-out phrases and habits,
and our self-made certainties,
steep us in the Gospel of your Son,
that his Good News may become credible
in our times and our world.
We ask you this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!
1 Reading: ACTS 11:19-26
Those who had been scattered by the persecution that arose because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews. There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however, who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus. The hand of the Lord was with them and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord. Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the Church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 87:1B-3, 4-5, 6-7
R. (117:1a) All you nations, praise the Lord. or: Alleluia.
His foundation upon the holy mountains
the LORD loves:
The gates of Zion,
more than any dwelling of Jacob.
Glorious things are said of you,
O city of God! R.
I tell of Egypt and Babylon
among those who know the LORD;
Of Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia:
“This man was born there.”
And of Zion they shall say:
“One and all were born in her;
And he who has established her
is the Most High LORD.” R.
They shall note, when the peoples are enrolled:
“This man was born there.”
And all shall sing, in their festive dance:
“My home is within you.” R.
Alleluia: JOHN 10:27
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: JOHN 10:22-30
The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
Seeing is the last act. In order to see one must believe. In order to believe one must truly listen. Those who gathered around Jesus insist: “If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus responds: “I have already told you but you do not believe.” Jesus has revealed his identity several times, but they have not been willing to listen. Had they been willing, they would have truly listened to him, believed, and then seen the works he has been doing in his Father’s name. We see only when we truly believe. In other words, we see what we desire to see.
A story might help. A social worker was addressing a group of reluctant alcoholics about the dangers of alcoholism. In order to drive home his point, he took two glasses, one glass filled with water, and the other, with alcohol. Into both glasses he dropped an earthworm each. Whereas the worm in the water remained alive, the worm in the alcohol died instantly. He then threw the question to the audience: “What do you learn from this?” One dedicated alcoholic answered: “We must drink alcohol, for it kills all worms in our stomach.” We see what we believe.
Let us pray today for the missionary Church and say: Lord, hear our prayer.
– That the Church may never tire of preaching Christ as the Risen Lord, we pray:
– That the Church may never tire of asking the Lord to make it ever new and to be attentive to the signs of the times, we pray:
– That Christians may live in such a way that their life of faith attracts people to Christ, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
the bread and the wine on this table
speak to us of a journey into the future
to go together with your Son.
Change us as you change these gifts,
and transform us into the image of your Son.
Make us into people who dare to stand up
to speak your message without fear
in the language our times understand,
people who have the courage
to go new ways when demanded,
yet always loyal to your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord forever. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
we are glad that we are called Christians,
men and women who follow Christ, your Son.
May we remain faithful to him
with a steadfast commitment
and fill us with the grace of the Lord,
that the Holy Spirit may live in us
and that we too may bring many to the Lord
and be worthy of the name
of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!
May the grace of God be at work in us to keep us faithful with steadfast commitment, that we may be true disciples of Christ. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!