The names of all the places in which St. Paul preached the Good News of Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead is a dizzying account of comings and goings. However, in the midst of this report, we also hear that the Holy Spirit prevented St. Paul from entering certain cities and countries. St. Luke includes this detail to impress upon us the fact that while Paul is doing the walking and the preaching, it is God who is doing the actual work. God is using St. Paul and is directing the work.
Jesus makes the point in the Gospel that his disciples should expect the same kind of reception as they go about preaching as he himself received while here upon this earth. Impressing this fact upon them before they begin is yet another way that Jesus makes it clear that he does what the Father asks of him regardless of the danger that comes with the activity.
In both instances, it is clear that the readings today are reassuring us and challenging us at the same time. This has been a pattern that has developed throughout the Easter Season.
In several different episodes, we have heard that the disciples rejoiced when they were made to suffer for preaching in the name of Jesus. Jesus had told them beforehand that this would be the case. So not only did they find it reassuring that they were following in his footsteps, it also gave them the courage to continue.
As we come to the Eucharist today, we should be aware that just as Jesus saved the world through his suffering, God will also use our suffering to continue the work of redemption. The Eucharist would not have been possible had Jesus not suffered for our sake. When we receive the Bread of Life, we are challenged to continue in the struggle to bring the Gospel to the world.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator