5th Week of Easter, Saturday, May 8
Acts 16:1-10 / John 15:18-21
Jesus warns his disciples; ' 'They will Persecute you as they did me. "
An American warship was transporting wounded Japanese prisoners during World War Il. The medical officer took such excellent care of the prisoners that some American officers protested. "Treat those animals the same way that they treat our wounded," they said.The medical officer responded: "Let them play by their rules. I play by a different set of rules, and if that bothers anyone, I'm sorry. I'm going to do my best to replace whatever hatred they have in their hearts with love. That's the only way we're ever going to have peace in this world."
What set of rules do we usually play by— the world's rules or the rules of Jesus? "He drew a circle that shut me out— Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win. We drew a circle that took him in. Edwin Markham, "Outwitted"
On his second missionary journey, Paul and his new companion, Silas, went to Lystra. There they met Timothy, now in his early twenties. He was a fine young man with an excellent reputation. He was well versed in the Scriptures, Hebrew and Greek. Paul ordained him and made him a companion on the journey. Not to offend the Jews, Paul had him circumcised, since in Jewish law he had to follow the religion of the mother. This was Paul's mission policy: to go always first to the Jews. The Jews had spread widely in the Roman empire and in almost every place there was a synagogue. Being a Pharisee and a highly educated teacher of the law, Paul was able to impress a Jewish audience. Christ was first sent to the scattered flock of Israelites, not only as a starting-point, but especially since Judaism was permitted in Rome, till Claudius forbade it in 49 AD. Otherwise they would have fallen under the law of "illicit religion". Greek had become, after Alexander, the language of culture and commerce in the then known world. Paul always sought the will of God, every sign of which was dear to him. Five times Luke mentions that God showed him his will in a dream (16.6; 18.9-10; 22.17-21; 23, 11; 27.23-24). Here he saw a Macedonian, who said him: come across and help us. Was it perhaps that even he thought Of Alexander the Great and was inspired by him to go out and extend the kingdom of God to the ends of the world?
The world that has rejected Christ hates Christ and his disciples; it persecutes them because the lifestyle of a good Christian is a silent condemnation of the world. Think, for example, of the films by Luis Bunuel, the Spanish director, who is obsessed by everything Christian and holds it up to bitter sarcasm.
Perhaps, more deadening than persecution is the attitude of a world that has not discovered Christ or has a distorted view of him and of Christianity. To these people, we are ridiculous, old-fashioned, irrelevant, out of touch with reality, and worthy of a pitying smile.
In life, we are often confronted with the two ways of deciding and acting. There is the way of the world, which is always more popular and also easier to follow. But a deeper reflection would tell us that the way of the world is inevitably a selfish and self-centred approach which does not bring about much good.
The other way is the way of Jesus. It is obviously a more difficult way, but one that leads us to discover the meaning of life and wonders of love. As it is, the world talks about retribution, revenge, to think about ourselves and to be No. 1 even at all costs. The way of Jesus shows us sacrifice, humility, love and care for others. To follow the way of Jesus can result in scorn and contempt. Others will see us as weak and soft and will even call us losers.
Yet in the end, the way of Jesus has proven to be a more gentle and more powerful way that brings about the beauty and the meaning of love. Let us remember that we serve only one Master. Hence for us it is only His way.
Yet this was the lot of Christ. We share in his love, and also in the treatment he is given by the world. The disciple is no better than the master. In the disciple, the world still rejects Christ, the Master. At least, we are in good company…
Lord, our God, it is good to live in the friendship of your Son, Jesus Christ. Make us realize that also in this love, we are committed to him and share with him for better and for worse, in misunderstanding and contradiction as well as in joy and intimacy. Help us to rejoice, even when treated with indifference or ridicule on account of him, for it means that he is still with us, who is our Lord forever. Amen