Saints Nereus and Achilleus, martyrs (opt. Memorial); Saint Pancras, martyr (opt. Memorial)
Jews came over from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city. The next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.
After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch. There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, "It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God." And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.
Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. And they stayed there with the disciples for some time.
All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,
and your friends shall repeat their blessing.
They shall speak of the glory of your reign
and declare your might, O God,
to make known to men your mighty deeds
and the glorious splendour of your reign. (R./)
Yours is an everlasting kingdom;
your rule lasts from age to age. (R./)
Let me speak the praise of the Lord,
let all mankind bless his holy name for ever,
for ages unending. (R./)
Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, "I am going away, and I am coming to you." If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.
I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way."
When Jesus speaks of going away he is looking toward the cross and the resurrection. After his sacrifice he will be in heaven with the Father and the Spirit. Like the apostle Thomas we sometimes feel: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Although Jesus has gone away we are asked to walk in his footsteps, trusting that his way leads to eternal life.
One way to follow him is a kind of mindfulness, letting us become more aware of the spirit within us. Here is where God’s temple is found, the Holy of Holies, with the covenant written in our hearts. Here we can listen to the word that requires our response. Jesus speaks with us and calls us “friends.” We truly want to follow his way, making him our compass in life.
Paul and Barnabas moved out to new territory, to live in places that seemed outside the range of God’s people but were not really so. They needed great courage in order to bring those people to Jesus. As Paul put it, “We must undergo many trials to enter the reign of God.” But along with bravery, we are also called to promote peace. This means forgiving others, accepting differences, building bridges. His words remain, “Peace is my gift to you. Do not be afraid.”
We have just heard a fine description of the ministry of Paul and Barnabas. Visiting small churches that were struggling in a pagan environment, they put fresh heart into the people, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. In the gospel Jesus does something similar. He urged his disciples who were distressed at the prospect of losing him, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.’
Pope Francis has urge us to be joyful in living by our faith. In this we can depend on the Holy Spirit. Among the names of the Holy Spirit are Comforter and Advocate, so we pray to him, ‘Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour thy dew.’