This passage from Chapter 11 of Acts was part of yesterday's Mass readings:
22 The news about them reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas (to go) to Antioch.
23 When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart,
24 for he was a good man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord.
- It is a passage for our times today, as much as for then. Claire King writing in Living Faith had this to say about this particular passage:
Because of the persecution of the believers in Jerusalem, a number of Jesus' followers ended up in antioch where the Holy Spirit was cultivating a new kind of church, one that would include both Jews and Gentiles. The Church leaders in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to go and chekc it out. Barnabas' journey of almost 400 years covered far less ground than the gigantic leap of faith it must have taken for him to open his heart to the possibility that the Spiri of Jesus was moving in a new way in Antioch, yet he chose to respond with encouragement.
What if we were to take up the "Ministry of Encouragement" today, purposely looking for what's going right and taking the time to affirm it? Can we open our eyes and heart today to all the strengths and virtues present in ourselves, in others, in the workplace, in our community and country?
- My Dear Wife read this to us as part of our evening devotions last night, and then asked me what it meant for me?
- It was a profound question in light of the persecution of the Catholic Church that has been going on lately, and also in light of my own response to it. Last year, when I started this blog, I was writing about Human Rights abuses by government tribunals and commissions here in Ontario and Canada. I found over time that it was a very negative experience and was affecting my own spirit. I then decided to write about something that I love, my Christian faith, and particularly as found in my own Catholic Church. Having put that spurt of negativity behind me, I forged ahead, until the new bump in the road of the rehashing of the sexual abuse scandal occurred.
- I believe that I have been defending the faith lately, trying to look at things with a more balanced view, but largely I have been directly combating the misinformation that has surfaced. This has had a negative drag on me spiritually and emotionally.
- I have reason to be very sensitive to those who were abused, and tried to express that. However, there are elements that want to take things that largely happened many, many years ago, and spin them out to write off the entire Catholic Church.
- One writer told me that people still attending the Catholic Church stirs up the angst in abuse victims, which statement amazed me. If when I do the dance of my life, you feel angst, that is not about me, at all, at all. That in this case, is about victims of something horrible visiting that victimization on others, because they have not been able to deal with it properly, and find the healing of their own hearts. The particular writer is very active in the self proclaimed "righteous" pursuit of all priests and former priests who were ever involved in abuse, and wanting to take down the institutional Church with it.
- Those of us who are Christians are called to live out the Gospel in its entirety, whether it be in the Catholic Church or elsewhere. We are called to be like Polyanna in one of my favourite quotes from the 20th Century: "If you look for the good in people, you will surely find it." Barnabas was a lot like Polyanna, though his theology and philosophy was a bit deeper; but then he was real, she celluloid.
- Today, Let us be like Barnabas, and encourage ourselves and others to live the life that God has called us each to, a live of joy in the midst of trials, and of grace from God. Let us lift each other up in prayers for repentance and reconciliation and prayers of healing like the one at the end of yesterday's post I borrowed from "Time to Heal Clergy Sex Abuse".
- Let us pray for our own healing of memories and that of those inside and outside our families that we are called to love as I have amended it here:
Lord Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, go back into my memory and the memory of my family members and those whose sorrow has come to my attention, as we sleep. Every hurt that has ever been done to us, heal that hurt. Every hurt that we have ever caused another person, heal that hurt. All the relationships that have been damaged in our whole lives that we are not aware of, heal those relationships.
But, O Lord, if there is anything that we need to do, If we need to go to a person because he or she is still suffering from our hands, bring to our awareness that person. We choose to forgive, and we ask to be forgiven. Remove whatever bitterness may be in our hearts, Lord, and fill the empty spaces with your love. Amen.
Original found at Daily Word of Life: Catholic Prayers http://www.daily-word-of-life.com/catholic_prayers.htmAs St. Francis said, May we be instruments of peace.
Sacred Heart f Jesus, I trust in your love for all who read this message, for their loved ones, and for all those who are against us in this world.