The first reading on Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Easter, Came from the book the Church especially listens to during the Easter season, the Acts of the Apostles. The book witnesses to the newness of life in the Spirit, but also, as here, suggests that there was also something in those early days that could be both brutal and brutalising.
When Saul got to Jerusalem he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him: they could not believe he was really a disciple. Barnabas, however, took charge of him, introduced him to the apostles, and explained how the Lord had appeared to Saul and spoken to him on his journey, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. Saul now started to go round with them in Jerusalem, preaching fearlessly in the name of the Lord. But after he had spoken to the Hellenists, and argued with them, they became determined to kill him. When the brothers knew, they took him to Caesarea, and sent him off from there to Tarsus.
Were it not for his ‘exile’, perhaps Paul’s mission to the Gentiles would not have got underway. Maybe, too, the Church in the Holy Land needed a certain ‘recovery’ time.
- Where are we in this? What do we proclaim, teach, espouse?
- What is the effect on us and others?
- How do we take responsibility for our way forward? Our own way forward, and theirs?
Carving of St Paul, St Paul outside the Walls. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.