Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
(Acts 13:13-25; John 13:16-20)
The man is an active Catholic working with youth in his parish. He has a small, successful business and is married with a family. He would hardly have dreamt being so blessed seventeen years ago. Then he was in jail reeling from a troubled childhood. In time he met the Lord largely, as he tells the story, through the prison chaplain. The encounter turned his life around. His story parallels that of St. Paul preaching in a synagogue in the first reading today.
Capture the irony. Just a few years before Paul would have been in a similar synagogue ferreting out Jews having inclinations toward Jesus whom Christians believed was the Christ or Messiah. Now he preaches quite openly that indeed Jesus is the savior of the people. His turnabout came through a palpable encounter with Jesus risen from the dead.
Many today have experiences such as Paul’s. The Church sponsors activities such as “Cursillo” and “Christ Renews His Parish” so that participants may know Christ in ways beyond the intellect. Many others have a relationship with Christ without such a felt experience. They know him to be real and influential although they would never admit to hearing him speak to them. In any case we should treat Jesus as he is preached by Paul – a friend who comes to save us from our folly and all its effects.