One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.” He stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. They said, “This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to the law.” Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of crime or serious villainy, I would be justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews; but since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves; I do not wish to be a judge of these matters.”
And he dismissed them from the tribunal. Then all of them seized Sosthenes, the official of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of these things.
After staying there for a considerable time, Paul said farewell to the believers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had his hair cut, for he was under a vow.
At some point, we all need that reassurance, that encouragement that St. Paul receives from the Lord in his vision. “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you,” as the translation we hear at Mass reads.
In trying to live as a disciple of Jesus, we come up against persecution in various forms, we have self-doubt, we see or experience injustices, and everything else that life might throw at us.
How do we come back from this doubt, persecution, etc.? Why not how Paul did? Seek reassurance and encouragement from Jesus. Maybe it’s not through our dreams but through the peace felt at Holy Communion or Reconciliation, maybe through the Spirit speaking to us through a friend or colleague, or maybe through our taking time to dwell in and express gratitude.
Go on speaking Jesus’ name, boldly living out your faith. Do not fall silent to doubt or worldly injustices.
—Jake Derry is the Campus Ministry Associate at St. Mary Student Parish at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Let me not look away, O God
Let me not look away, O God, from any truth I should see. Even if it is difficult, let me face the reality in which I live. I do not want to live inside a cosseted dream, imagining I am the one who is always right, or believing only what I want to hear. Help me to see the world through other eyes, to listen to voices distant and different, to educate myself to the feelings of those with whom I think I have nothing in common. Break the shell of my indifference. Draw me out of my prejudices and show me your wide variety. Let me not look away.
—Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston
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