Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Biblical students find three distinct “missionary journeys” of St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles. Although the apostle himself did not likely divide his preaching so neatly, the three-journey arrangement helps us appreciate his great accomplishment. The section from Acts that we read today shows Paul shortly after commencing his first missionary expedition.
In the reading Paul typically goes to the Jewish synagogue of the town where he finds himself. When he has an opportunity to say something, he does not hesitate to stand up. His message conveys what is often called the kerygma, a Greek word meaning the proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ. Today’s kerygmatic message summarizes the story of salvation from the slavery of the Hebrews in Egypt to the preaching of John the Baptist. It continues tomorrow with Jesus’ death and resurrection as the fulfillment of God’s promise.
As Paul proclaims the kerygma on his missionary journeys, the Church calls us to be missionaries. Last year the bishops of Latin America assembled in Aparecida, Brazil, issued a document formally describing Catholic Christians as “missionary disciples.” As disciples, we allow ourselves to be formed according to the word of God. As missionaries, we put that word into action. Some will have the role of proclaiming the word orally like Paul. All of us, however, are to proclaim it by loving service to family, neighbor, and world.