Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter
(Acts 14:5-18; John 14:21-26)
Fernando de Loazes was archbishop of Valencia during the sixteenth century. His humanist background saw heavy-handed inquisitorial attempts to convert Muslims as futile. In fact, he succeeded in evangelization by convincing non-believers of the gospel’s efficacy. St. Paul had the same experience fifteen hundred years before. In today’s first reading Paul struggles with cultural differences as he preaches in Lystra.
When Paul cures the paralytic, he no doubt expects to gain the attention of the people. After all, the crowds in Jerusalem listened to Peter after he made a similar cure. So Paul prepares himself to preach about Jesus. But Jews can differentiate between God and His prophets with healing power. Greeks, on the other hand, assume that the healer is a god. Paul and Barnabas then are proclaimed “Zeus” and “Hermes” of mythological fame. Because the people speak the lingua franca, the apostles are unaware of what is happening. Only when the people bring animal offerings do they catch on. Paul then tries to reason with the people, but his argument is in vain. As when he preaches natural theology in Athens, the people are not affected. He learns by experience the lesson of today’s gospel. People need to be convinced of God’s love through the love of those who work in His name.
We too can evangelize by showing God’s love to others. We do this when we listen to another’s pain and respond with a word of understanding. Love evangelizes more powerfully than either logic or force.