Wednesday of the Third Week of Easter
(Acts 8:1b-8; John 6:35-40)
Although the Acts of the Apostles provides only a summary history of the early Church, several conclusions may be drawn from it. Today’s passage, for example, gives three keys to understanding the initial missionary activity of the Church. First, the fact that the missions resulted from the persecution of the Church in Jerusalem tells us that they were not planned in advance. Rather, they were the work of the Holy Spirit prompting Christians to work for the good in any situation. Second, the comment on how the Apostles and, presumably, other Hebrew Christians stayed behind in Jerusalem indicates that the initial missions were a venture of Greek-speaking Christians. These non-Jerusalemites probably downplayed the importance of the Temple as Stephen did in his diatribe before being stoned. Finally, as missionaries they did not feel restricted to preach their message to Jews but could address pagans as well. The latter not only could speak their language but also had no interest whatsoever in Temple worship.
As recent popes constantly remind us, Catholics today must take up the mission of evangelization. We can draw on the conclusions from Acts to respond to the summons. The Spirit puts us in situations where our lives and words give testimony to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In the beginning, at least, our purpose will not be to bring people into church but to show them how the love that Jesus teaches leads to a more fulfilling life. Still, we do not refrain from speaking of our personal relationship with Jesus. The righteousness of our lives will be the surest sign to others of the validity of our message. But unless we are clear that the Holy Spirit guides us, they will never know the full story.