As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people urged them to speak about these things again the next sabbath. When the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy; and blaspheming, they contradicted what was spoken by Paul. Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,
‘I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord; and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their region. So they shook the dust off their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Acts of the Apostles 13:42-52
The experience of Paul and Barnabas reminds us of God’s relentlessness in coming to meet us where we are at the moment. As we are His creation, He wants to communicate His divinity to our human capacity through the people we meet, the events that happen in our lives, the role that we play in our families or communities, and in every form that we can possibly comprehend. God reveals Himself to us to make us capable of responding to Him through our faith and love for Him in our human capacity. We were created out of love; hence, it is our human nature to seek and respond to that love – to a certain extent.
The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists, it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator. (Vatican Council II, GS 19)
However, human as we are, the freewill that God generously bestowed upon us (also out of His love for us), is being misused and abused. Often times, we choose to put all things in our hands. We define our preferences towards everything based on our perceptions. We tend to define our faith based on our misguided thoughts at times. We begin to make decisions on our own without referring to the precepts of God. It is unfortunate that we even tend or choose to reject God Himself. We shut our ears off in response to His call. We tend to lose the track of seeking that Love because we are very much glared with the power clothed around our God-given freewill. We enjoy the earthly freedom but we fail to remember what we were called to do.
It is painful to realize that many times we are like the Jews in the reading – prideful and self-absorbed. It is indeed a shame that we arrogantly turn down what is being offered to us, that is, God’s abundance in the eternal life. Such rejection may be rooted from jealousy, pride, or whatever issues that continuously decay in our hearts and minds. Nothing and no one else seem to be more important than our own interests.
How many times have we clearly seen God revealed Himself to us in our lives yet we turned down a generally manageable invitation to participate at Holy Mass, or play an instrument at a church choir, or serve food at a soup kitchen? A call to do simple gestures but we say “no” to. While we aspire to be like the saints who did heroic acts, God is calling us, ordinary people (like me and you), to respond to His call – to use the precious gifts He has given us, to share our talents, to spread His Word, to be His disciples, to speak about Him and to act like true children of God. Or, simply, in the book of John, Jesus commands us to LOVE.
By saying, “yes” to God, we are actually keeping ourselves back on track in pursuit of basking in His love. In essence, we are telling Him that we love Him and that He is the reason for our being, that we live for Him, that we are nothing without Him. By saying, “yes” to God, we tell Him that our hearts, minds and souls are all ready for when He comes to meet us where we are.
Father God, thank you for coming to meet me where I am. I am sorry for the many times I have rejected you in my life. I have heard your voice several times but I chose to hear my own voice. I am sorry.
Lord, please lead me to where you want me to be. Equip me and bestow upon me your strength and wisdom to be a servant to others. I am yours, Lord; use me. Make me an instrument of your salvation.