Acts 13: 13-25
John 13: 16-20
We are blessed to have Luke’s summary of Paul’s first missionary sermon. What we have in our reading today is just the first half of that inaugural discourse. The context and audience is important. Paul and Barnabas enter a synagogue in Antioch in Pisidia and take their seats. Immediately they are noticed as visitors and after the readings of the Law and the prophets are in invited to speak to the mixed congregation of Jews and God-fearing gentiles. That there are gentiles in the synagogue attests to the attractiveness of the Jewish faith for pagans. The monotheism of the Jewish religion contrasted sharply with the gods and goddesses of Greece and Rome.
Paul recalls that God took the initiative and chose the Jewish people as his own, led them out of Egypt, and set them up in the Promised Land. He raised up judges, and Saul their first king, and then David. From David’s descendants "God, according to his promise has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus." John was his herald and pointed to him: "Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet." In identifying Jesus as "savior" Paul proclaims the great leap of faith that was the apostle’s experience of Jesus. For the pious Jew God alone saves his people, God alone redeems his people. Israel’s salvation is bestowed by God’s mercy. Now salvation and freedom from sin comes through Jesus.
During these fifty days the Church has been celebrating the glorious Resurrection of Jesus. We have come to believe that Jesus is the I AM. Like apostle Thomas we can only say "My Lord and my God".
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.