May 12 reflection by Deacon Jerry
Reflection for the 5th Tuesday of Easter
Acts 14:19-28 —John 14:27-31a
Todays’ reading from the Acts of the Apostles is a continuation from Monday’s reading. Paul and Barnabas were in Iconium spreading the word of God, and both the Gentiles and the Jews along with the religious leaders were planning at attack and stone them. They both fled to the Lycaonian cites of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding countryside continuing to proclaim the Good News.
In today’s reading in Acts these same Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived in the Lycaonian cities and with their false teachings won over the crowds. This crowd and the Jewish leaders stone Paul, drag him out of the city and leave him for dead.
The disciples gathered around Paul, he got up and entered the city. The following day he and Barnabas left for Derbe where they continued to proclaim the Good News of Jesus and the number of disciples grew.
Paul never gives up to matter the cost, even if it meant death, his mission, vocation, was to spread and tell anyone who would listen of all the good works of Jesus and what his relationship with Jesus was. His efforts, his passion, his drive strengthened the spirit of himself and of all the disciples that had converted and followed him. We read in this passage that Paul urged and encouraged them to persevere in the faith saying; “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God”
No truer words can be spoken and resonate with us to this very day. With our shelter in place directive, businesses, schools, places of worship all closed we feel the torment of this altered state of life. But Paul’s words of preserving in faith, and enduring hardships, difficult, as they may seem, should also lift our spirits. The darkness that we are experiencing is slowly fading, becoming moment by moment a little brighter. We will be able to gather again in small groups, socially and spiritually at some point in time. We just have to trust, and persevere to the truths that we believe in and in medical science that the church embraces.
A little spiritual food for thought as we continue to slowly emerge out of today’s darkness and into the light that is Christ.
Stay safe, pray, exercise, and have a blessed week.
Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Saints Nereus and Achilleus. Not being familiar with these two Saints I have included a very brief piece from Loyola Press on them. They both persevered in their faith and suffered the gravest hardship, subsequently entering into eternal life and communion with God the Father.
Saints Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs
Roman soldiers made good martyrs
Little is known about Saints Nereus and Achilleus, but we know is engraved in stone. Damasus, one of the first popes and later a saint himself, wrote the epitaph for the tombstone of Saints Nereus and Achilleus. In this epitaph he proclaimed that it was love for Christ and a desire to witness to their new faith that inspired Nereus and Achilleus to “throw away their shields, their armor, and their bloody spears.”
It seems that both men were Roman soldiers who obeyed orders in the persecution of Christians until they themselves were converted to Christianity. Because Christians were not allowed to bear arms, they resigned from the emperor’s army and escaped from Rome. Eventually Nereus and Achilleus were captured and put to death for their beliefs. They were among the first martyrs to be venerated as saints.
As in the case of many early martyrs, the Church clings to its memories though the events are clouded in the mists of history. It is a heartening thing for all Christians to know that they have a noble heritage. Our brothers and sisters in Christ have stood in the same world in which we live—militaristic, materialistic, cruel and cynical—yet transfigured from within by the presence of the Living One. The heroes and heroines who have gone before us marked by the sign of faith and the wounds of Christ enliven our own courage.