Tuesday the 4th Week of Easter
Acts 11: 19-26, John 10: 22-30
“It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians” (Acts 11:30). This line struck me. To tell the truth, it jumped off of the page and hit me between the eyes. The period of training had come to an end. The disciples of Jesus were no longer catechumens. Having sat at the feet of the apostles, the eager disciples plunged into the regenerating water of baptism and clothed themselves with Christ (CF. Gal. 3:27). The new name that was applied to the community of believers confirms Paul’s words. “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). The Gospel is not a philosophy to be studied. Rather, it is an implanted word that would take root in the human heart and save our lives (CF. Jam. 1:21).
The author of Hebrews wrote, “The word of God is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing the separation of soul and spirit” (Heb. 4:12). The Sacred Word separates the talkers from the walkers. The onlookers saw that difference in the fledgling community. In recognition of the community’s roots, they awarded them a new name: Christian. As the author of the letter to the Philippians puts it, “Our citizenship is in heaven, from where we eagerly await our Savior” (Phil. 3:20). The proper meaning of the title Christian is a follower of Christ who has freely embraced all that Jesus taught and did and shaped his life by all that Jesus said and did. In the true believer, the Word of God would become flesh and dwell in them.
It is in Christ that believers live and move and have their being. They are thus to be called by the name of their dwelling place – Christians. Writing to the Church in Emphasis, St. Paul said, “If we cling to the truth in love, we shall grow up in every way into Him who is the head” (Eph. 4:16). We need to conform ourselves to the message we have heard. Because our citizenship is in Christ, with the apostle, “we press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of us” (CF. Phil. 3:12). We come into the presence of the Lord to listen to his word in simplicity and gratitude. Then we abandon ourselves to him. How great is the joy of those who hear and believe the Words that come forth from the mouth of God! How blessed are they who follow the Shepherd wherever he leads them. Having been grafted to Christ who is the Love of the Father made tangible, we become ministers of love for all our distressed brothers and sisters.
God of everlasting mercy,
who in the very recurrence of the paschal feast
kindle the faith of the people you have made your own,
increase, we pray, the grace you have bestowed,
that all may grasp and rightly understand
in what font they have been washed,
by whose Spirit they have been reborn,
by whose Blood they have been redeemed.
(Collect of 2nd Sunday of Easter)