The Easter liturgical season reminds us of our church and its radical Spirit-led beginnings. Today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles offers us the missionary focus and challenges of Paul and Silas. It is a lesson in perseverance for what we plan and an invitation to trust the possibilities of change. One might even suggest it highlights the tension between the two postures. I wonder what that “prevention” which Paul recounts looked like? For Paul, we will see in the next section of this chapter that the mission took a turn orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. Even though he didn’t plan this voyage, he brought the Gospel to Europe. Going beyond Paul’s scope at the time, the mission grew exponentially from there.
Have you ever been “prevented” from doing something you believed necessary for your life’s journey? How can we perceive the difference between a challenge to persevere and the insight to change course? Sometimes, we may think the challenges and radical new ways presented to the early church were just “back in those days” and irrelevant today. I might suggest that is not the case.
Jesus in our Gospel offers the message of radical engagement in mission that is suitable for today. After all, this is the living word of God. Jesus’ words give reassurance and even a challenge in confusing times. We must remember that we are the chosen people he saved from sin for his purpose. It is both communal and personal, regardless of how convenient or inconvenient. For the sake of the world, we must become Christ’s presence. We find the strength and the gifts best expressed within community. Combined with the power of the Holy Spirit, we will move mountains. Today is no different than in the time of Paul. Perhaps we are not called to blaze a trail in the way of Paul but instead are invited to embrace the “Way” in our lives for the good of the mission of Christ.
Today we remember Our Lady of Fatima. Her life is a prime example to us. Her yes to the Angel Gabriel set off a chain of yesses that still has relevance today. She has continued to stay close to her children throughout history. To teach, to heal, and to inspire us. Paul was inspired to go a different way in a dream and knew this was a further call in his mission.
May we be ready to change our plans and go a different way for the glory of the Kingdom.
May our plans always align to the plans of the Holy Spirit for the greater glory of God. Alleluia, amen.
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.