The more familiar we become with the Bible, the greater our realization of the fact that it is a highly literary work. That this is true especially of the New Testament is stated explicitly in the last lines of the Saint John account. At the end of this Gospel we are told that Jesus performed so many remarkable deeds that they could not all be recorded. This statement serves to suggest that the Gospel account is inevitably selective. How much of Jesus’ experience is passed over on silence. We know of only one event in the thirty years between his baptism and his first public claim of a heavenly authority.
The essentials of our Lord’s significance were the focus of those who wrote of his life, suffering, and death. The first reading today illustrates this fact strikingly. Saint Paul’s experience of preaching in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia is described in detail by Luke. After a concise version of the suffering and death of Jesus, Paul accuses his Jewish audience of being guilty of unjustly causing the Savior to be put to death. He then stresses that though guilty, yet they acted in ignorance. God raised the crucified victim from the dead to a new life, he boldly affirms, and in doing so fulfilled what He had promised through the prophets.
Rather than resenting this accusation the Jews at this synagogue service, John tells us, asked for additional explanation the next day. After learning more fully of Christ many devout gentiles present as well as numerous Jews came to believe. As belief spread, other Jews not only resisted Paul but managed to have Paul and Barnabas forced to leave the city.
This same process continues in our present world. Fidelity to Christian faith is being subjected to various pressures not only in the Middle East but even in our own country. The teachings even of some bishops and Cardinals are in contradiction with Catholic truth as other traditional Cardinals assert. May this Eucharist contribute to the fullness of faith not only for us here at this mass, but for all the people of God in this world.