24 April 2018
I’m not sure if you can feel the earthquake that is taking place in today’s first reading, but it’s a doozy. Many members of the original Christian community in Jerusalem fled the city during the persecution that followed the martyrdom of Stephen. They took the Gospel with them, proclaiming Jesus as Messiah, raised from the dead, wherever they went. The tectonic plates started crunching when the following happened: Instead of sticking to the script and preaching Jesus in the Jewish synagogues…
Some of them, however, who came from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch where they started preaching to the Greeks, proclaiming the Good News of the Lord Jesus to them as well. The Lord helped them, and a great number believed and were converted to the Lord.
From where we stand today, we can struggle to grasp how thoroughly Jewish the first Christians were. The revelation that the Gospel was in fact for everybody, not just for Jewish believers, came as a rude shock to many. As Paul’s epistles show, this was a red-hot topic in the early Church. The fundamental question was this: Do those who come to faith in Jesus need to become Jews in order to be Christian? It was a debate the no vote eventually comprehensively won!
The early Christians felt compelled to proclaim Jesus. The Jewish/Gentile controversy became a big issue largely because of the significant numbers of Gentile converts streaming into the Church. The Christians were on fire with the Gospel. Evangelisation was an urgent task for everyone.
I can’t help but feel we pale in comparison as the Australian Catholic Church today.
As we approach Pentecost, Lord give us a new boldness and the gifts we need to be effective witnesses to your great love to all around us.