Friday 27 May 2022 6th week of Eastertide
At Corinth one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced: I am with you. I have so many people on my side in this city that no one will even attempt to hurt you.’ So, Paul stayed there preaching the word of God among them for eighteen months. But, while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a concerted attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. ‘We accuse this man’ they said, ‘of persuading people to worship God in a way that breaks the Law.’ Before Paul could open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, ‘Listen, you Jews. If this were a misdemeanour or a crime, I would not hesitate to attend to you; but if it is only quibbles about words and names, and about your own Law, then you must deal with it yourselves – I have no intention of making legal decisions about things like that.’ Then he sent them out of the court, and at once they all turned on Sosthenes, the synagogue president, and beat him in front of the courthouse. Gallio refused to take any notice at all. After staying on for some time, Paul took leave of the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut off, because of a vow he had made.
Psalm 46 God is king of all the earth.
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I tell you most solemnly, you will be weeping and wailing while the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. A woman in childbirth suffers, because her time has come; but when she has given birth to the child, she forgets the suffering in her joy that a man has been born into the world. So, it is with you: you are sad now, but I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy, and that joy no one shall take from you. When that day comes, you will not ask me any questions.’
As they did yesterday, the readings encourage us to remember that joy awaits us even if for a time we must suffer. The human tendency to see the negative rather than the positive is I suppose only natural. After all we are fearful of pain and hurt, so we want to be prepared to face such things, or to defend ourselves against them, or if possible, avoid them altogether. Such motivations are only our natural survival and defence mechanisms coming into play.
The Acts of the Apostles offers us a different point of view. At Corinth one night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid to speak out, nor allow yourself to be silenced: I am with you. I have so many people on my side in this city that no one will even attempt to hurt you.’ God will look after our defence for us.
So, we can feel the need to defend ourselves or avoid negative life experiences as a result of our fears and anxieties, especially when there is nothing but our own strength to go into battle with. But as a person of faith we know that while we experience fear or apprehension, we know that God’s strength goes before us, we are never alone, the words we need will be given, the strength to face the difficulties is made available to us. This is the joy of the Gospel – knowing that God always goes before us – we don’t have to make it on our own and with our own means.
Come ieri, le letture ci incoraggiano a ricordare che la gioia ci attende anche se per un certo periodo dobbiamo soffrire. La tendenza umana a vedere il negativo piuttosto che il positivo è, credo, naturale. Dopotutto, abbiamo paura del dolore e del male, quindi vogliamo essere preparati ad affrontare queste cose, o a difenderci da esse, o, se possibile, a evitarle del tutto. Queste motivazioni sono solo i nostri naturali meccanismi di sopravvivenza e di difesa che entrano in gioco.
Gli Atti degli Apostoli ci offrono un punto di vista diverso. A Corinto, una notte, il Signore parlò a Paolo in una visione: “Non aver paura di parlare e non lasciarti mettere a tacere: Io sono con te. Ho così tante persone dalla mia parte in questa città che nessuno tenterà di farti del male”. Dio si prenderà cura della nostra difesa per noi.
Possiamo sentire il bisogno di difenderci o di evitare esperienze di vita negative a causa delle nostre paure e delle nostre ansie, soprattutto quando non c’è altro che la nostra forza con cui combattere. Ma come persona di fede sappiamo che mentre sperimentiamo la paura o l’apprensione, sappiamo che la forza di Dio ci precede, non siamo mai soli, le parole di cui abbiamo bisogno ci saranno date, la forza per affrontare le difficoltà è messa a nostra disposizione. Questa è la gioia del Vangelo: sapere che Dio ci precede sempre, non dobbiamo farcela da soli e con i nostri mezzi.