Dear brothers and sisters, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24)
Missionary Zeal and Hardship
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 14:21-27), Paul and Barnabas continued their missionary activity of preaching the good news to different cities. They returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch to encourage and strengthen the faith of the converts, who are now called disciples. They exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “it is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Paul was previously stoned in Lystra and was left almost dead (Acts 14:19). So, he knew what he was speaking about when he said; “hardships” are necessary.
He and Barnabas didn’t give up on Lystra and the disciples there. Instead, they came back to strengthen them, encourage them, and challenge their faith. The apostles became for them, and indeed for us, a symbol of resilience and courage, a symbol of faithfulness in the midst of persecutions, hardships, and tribulations.
Borrowing a Leaf from the Apostles
The exhortation to remain resilient under hardships in order to enter the kingdom of God was necessary for the survival of the early Christian faithful, who had to undergo a lot of opposition, persecutions, hostilities, and oppressions from the Jews of the time and the Roman empire. The exhortation is also relevant in this day and age. We face similar hostilities, persecutions, and hardships in our daily undertakings, duties, or tasks. We can be committed to moving from city to city, proclaiming the gospel of Christ as Paul and Barnabas did. Each city represents a place where we risk our reputations and our lives for our faith. They represent where we endure hardships, unfriendliness, misunderstanding, trials, and tribulations. Each city represents where we live out our Christian lives, showing steadfastness of faith and living out the Christian principle of love of God and our fellow Christians, as today’s gospel reading elucidates more.
Be a Disciple of Love
In the Gospel reading from John (Jn. 13:31-35), Jesus gives us a new commandment to follow. It is the commandment of love. He says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples if you have a love for one another”. When we live our lives under the commandment of love, we help inaugurate a new heaven and new earth, as talked about by John in the second reading. Love leads us to be sincere, sympathetic, and empathetic and thus able to console those who are mourning, wailing, and in pain. We achieve true harmony through love and forgiveness that ensures a better future for ourselves. With love in our hearts, we are able to make all things new.
Always remember that Jesus loves you!