Charting a New Course
Isn't it incredible how drastically God can change a person? In the readings this week, it is clear that Paul has completely turned his life around.
First, Paul and Barnabas, who are traveling together, heal a crippled man. The crowds are amazed, as they should be, and declare that the two men are the gods Zeus and Hermes. They even have animals ready to sacrifice to them. How crazy is that?
Paul and Barnabas are distraught at how their message has been distorted. They are emphatic that they are no more gods than anyone else there. This power was not theirs but God's.
This response makes me think of some of the stories I read about saints, especially the more modern day ones who have writings that show how they feel about the pedestal they are on. So many saints are said to have incredible powers - levitation, the stigmata or marks of the cross, reading souls, healing, etc. When you read the saints' perspectives, each one of them lays no claim to these powers but is very clear that they are God's work and they are just the instruments. Just a "pencil in the hand of God" as Mother Teresa (St. Teresa of Calcutta) said.
We do well to remember this. We should give credit where it is due, and not mistake the creation for the Creator, whether we are the ones doing God's work or benefitting from it.
As we continue the story, Paul continues to travel with a schedule that would intimidate anyone today. Everywhere he goes he is beaten, stoned, and imprisoned. Everything he was going to do to the followers of Jesus is being done to him and more, and still he won't be deterred.
In the beginning, Paul's mission was to find "The Way" wherever it was and stop it. Now his mission is to spread it so far that it is unstoppable.
Don't you think that says something about the power of Jesus? All of this passion and energy that Paul has brings death when directed against Jesus.
Directed by Jesus, it brings life that can't be stopped by any hardship. Should we try it?
Photo: M Ratton