Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Reading 1 (Acts 16:1-10)

Paul reached also Derbe and Lystra
where there was a disciple named Timothy,
the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer,
but his father was a Greek.
The brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him,
and Paul wanted him to come along with him.
On account of the Jews of that region, Paul had him circumcised,
for they all knew that his father was a Greek.
As they traveled from city to city,
they handed on to the people for observance the decisions
reached by the Apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem.
Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith
and increased in number.

They traveled through the Phrygian and Galatian territory because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia.
When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia,
but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them,
so they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas.
During the night Paul had a vision.
A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words,
"Come over to Macedonia and help us."
When he had seen the vision,
we sought passage to Macedonia at once,
concluding that God had called us to proclaim the Good News to them.

Gospel (Jn 15:18-21)

Jesus said to his disciples:
"If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.
Remember the word I spoke to you,
'No slave is greater than his master.'
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,
because they do not know the one who sent me."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: The Holy Spirit helps people to wisely solve their problems.

             

            In daily life of a Christian, there is a time he needs to protect the truth to the point of sacrificing his life; but also a time to wisely adapt according to different cases and environments. How can a Christian recognize when he must sacrifice his life for the truth and when he can adapt according to environments? The answer is that he needs to make his decision according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The Holy Spirit doesn’t appear to tell us what to do; but he shall tell us depending on different environments; for examples, where he wants us to go he shall create opportunity and provide advantageous access; where he doesn’t want us to come, he shall take away opportunity or cause obstacles.

            Today readings help us to recognize the Holy Spirit’s guidance. In the first reading, Paul returned to the churches where he helped to establish to visit, to confirm, and to announce the central Church’s message before he began his second missionary journey. The passage mentioned the Holy Spirit was at work when Paul circumcised Timothy, a Hellenistic citizen, when Paul was prevented to come to Asia Minor and Bithynia, and when Paul was invited to come to Macedonia through a vision. In the Gospel, Jesus foretold that his disciples shall be persecuted from the world as they shall persecute him. The simple reason for this persecution is Jesus and his disciples don’t belong to the world.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Paul began his second missionary journey.

1.1/ He visited his established churches: When the opportunites came, Paul always came back to the churches which he helped to establish to visit and to confirm their faith. He first came to Derbe, and then to Lystra.

            (1) Paul reveived a disciple: To have more people to contribute to the mission of preaching the Good News, when Paul came to Lystra “there was a disciple named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek.The brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke highly of him,and Paul wanted him to come along with him. On account of the Jews of that region, Paul had him circumcised, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.”

            Why did Paul circumcised Timothy while he delivered the Jerusalem Church’s message which said nothing about circumcision? The answer is that since the circumcision isn’t related to the salvation, circumcision or not isn’t important. However, there is something which isn’t important with one, but is important to others. The reason why Paul circumcised Timothy because Paul wanted him to accompany him to places where there are Jews so that they shall not cause problems for him.

            (2) Paul handed out the Jerusalem Church’s message: "As they traveled from city to city, they handed on to the people for observance the decisions reached by the apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem.Day after day the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number.”

1.2/ Paul acted according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance:

            (1) The Holy Spirit prevented Paul to come to Phrygia and Galatia: The Acts reported: “They traveled through the Phrygian and Galatian territory because they had been prevented by the Holy Spirit from preaching the message in the province of Asia.When they came to Mysia, they tried to go on into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them,so they crossed through Mysia and came down to Troas.”

            Twice in this passage, the Acts mentioned “the Holy Spirit prevented” and “the Spirit of Jesus didn’t allow” Paul to come to Asia Minor’s cities. The author didn’t say in what way Paul knew the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We can only stipulate that either in a vision or by let Paul meet obstacles from local places.

            (2) The Holy Spirit wanted Paul to come to Macedonia: The Acts continued: "During the night Paul had a vision. A Macedonian stood before him and implored him with these words, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."When he had seen the vision, we sought passage to Macedonia at once, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.”

            The Holy Spirit wanted to expand the territories in Paul’s second missionary journey, not limited in Asia Minor region but expanded to Europe, beginning with the Hellenistic cities.

2/ Gospel: “You shall be persecuted by the world.”

2.1/ The conflict between God and the world: There are many meanings of the word “world” in the Fourth Gospel; but the meaning of “the world” here is understood as the power opposite with God, such as the devil and its members. There are many conflicts between God and the world that were expressed by John as the conflicts of values, such as: between light and darkness, truth and falsity, good and evil, love and hatred, unity and separation, just and unjust. The Christians are called to live and to witness for divine values which are always opposite with worldly values. The result is that the world shall hate the Christians, as Jesus said: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”

2.2/ If the world persecuted Jesus, they shall also persecute his disciples: Jesus warned his disciples of persecution: “Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”

            Jesus spent all of his life to teach people, to heal them from all kind of diseases and to expel demons; the world returned favor by persecution, condemnation, scourging and nailing him to the cross. Jesus’ disciples can’t avoid these punishments. If one reads the Acts and the history of the Church, one can see many of these punishments which Christ’s disciples endured to witness for him.

            In brief, the world opposes the Christians because they bear Christ’s name. When one chooses to have that name, he chose to be persecuted by the world. The world hates the Christians because they don’t belong to them and don’t live according to their ways and standards.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - We need to open up our soul to live according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. One of the signs to recognize his guidance is to rely on opportunity and environment. If he wants, he shall create opportunity and provide proper access; it not, he shall send obstacles.

            - There is a time we need to protect and to witness for the truth; there is also a time to adapt for a better result depending on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

            - To be Christ’s disciples is to be persecuted by the world. The simple reason is the world doesn’t know Christ neither accepts the gospel’s values.

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