And when an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, the apostles learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country; and there they continued proclaiming the good news.
In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said in a loud voice, "Stand upright on your feet." And the man sprang up and began to walk. When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in human form!" Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice.
When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, "Friends, why are you doing this? We are mortals just like you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to follow their own ways; yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good--giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy." Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.
Jesus said to his disciples,
"They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them." Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you."
If we are led by the Holy Spirit, we can be instruments of healing power, like Paul and Barnabas. We may find faith strong enough to help and heal them, as they did. Today's Scriptures suggest this healing frame of mind.
First, we must be obedient to the Holy Spirit. This same Spirit reminds us of all that Jesus has said, relevant to our situation, and revives our capacity for prayer, love and helpfulness. Our vocation will be fanned to fresh life and bring back some of the freshness of youth when we were stirred by high ideals. The Holy Spirit touches us, reminding us that we are full of potential, meant to be instruments of love and so to reveal the wonderful presence of God.
Second, grace is near at hand, all around us. God's word is written everywhere. The Spirit enables us to hear God's word, as though spoken for the first time, directly to our hearts. The message comes from the Father and sent Jesus out on his ministry of healing. As Paul expressed it in today's reading: "the living God made heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them. … In bestowing his benefits, he has not hidden himself from us. From the heavens he sends down rain and rich harvests; your spirits he fills with food and delight."
Thirdly, if the word is everywhere, it belongs to everyone. It cannot be hoarded as our private property. By its nature it must be shared or it dies. Just as the Father's word, as Jesus said, "is not mine" but is "to instruct you in everything," so the word we receive in our hearts must continuously flow through us to inspire new life in others.
Fourthly, we must trust God unconditionally. Each of us can be God's instrument, even to the extent of working small miracles. As God's Word infuses new life into our thoughts and expressions, it brings healing as to the crippled man at Lystra. Remember, Jesus promised that "The Paraclete, the Holy Spirit… will instruct you in everything."
The verb "to love" occurs very significantly in today's gospel. It speaks of our love for Jesus, Jesus' love for us, and God the Father's love for us. God the Father expresses his love for us by giving us the Son. Jesus expresses his love for us by laying down his life for us, and by making known to us all he has learnt from the Father. We express our love for Jesus by keeping his word, by living according to his teaching, which, in John's gospel, is summed up as "love one another as I have loved you." The gospel also makes reference to the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. As the Father expresses his love for us by giving us the Son; the Father and Son together express their love for us by giving us the Holy Spirit. The role of the Holy Spirit, according to our reading, is to be our teaching, to keep bringing to our minds the teaching, the word, of Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps us to keep Jesus' word, especially his command to "love one another as I have loved you." In that short gospel reading, there is a whole vision of the Christian life, of God's relationship with us as Father, Son and Spirit, and of our relationship with each other.