5th Saturday of Easter Week
Acts 16:1-10; John 15 :18-23
The reading from the Acts of the Apostles informs us of the beginning of St. Timothy’s close association with Saint Paul’s preaching ministry. Reading careful y we realize how tenaciously the Jewish converts retained their attachment to the provisions of certain traditional practices as prescribed by the Law of Moses. To avoid continuing conflict over the matter Paul did what he had earlier corrected Peter for doing. Just as Peter. In different circumstances, had compromised with the strict observance Jews in Antioch and was sternly corrected by Paul, now Paul himself seems to act similarly by having his disciple circumcised. It would appear that the circumstances and so the meaning of the act had changed sufficiently to justify the apparent inconsistency. Apparently Saint Luke who reported both occasions saw no contradiction on Paul’s part. Circumstances often lend a different significance to human acts.
Our text then tells of a major event in Paul’s ministry: his going to preach the Gospel in Macedonia represents the spread of the faith from the countries of the East to Europe. One could travel by land from Macedonian territory to Italy and Rome itself more safely, it seems, than by the sea route.
In the Gospel we have just heard , Jesus gives a very stern warning to his followers that remains pertinent through all time. He states the case boldly: “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” He has introduced these words with the observation that “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.” This persecution has taken many different features in the course of the centuries. We can observe the various forms it assumes in our own times in different countries.
In the Middle East and Pakistan many have been executed often after torture. In Nigeria too violent attacks have resulted in killing of unknown numbers of Catholics not distant from our Monastery. Here in our own country the Little Sisters of the Poor are under constraint by our G0vernment that has caused them to go to the courts for relief. Various business persons are being subjected to heavy fines for following their religious convictions. May their example of fidelity to conscience and God’s law strengthen us, and the whole Church, in our adherence to the fullness of our Lord’s teaching, sustained by the Eucharist and by trust in His loving mercy.