In today's first reading, Acts 14: 19-28, we are told that Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived to the place where Paul was proclaiming Christ. These Jews won over the crowd and stoned Paul, leaving him for dead. When disciples of Jesus surrounded Paul, he got up. These disciples with Paul left for Derbe, where they strengthened the faith of others, exhorted them to remain true to the faith. They also reminded the disciples of Jesus in Derbe that they would suffer much for their faith but not to waver.
I am left when several questions: Do I strengthen others in the faith or do I weaken other's faith by my lack of love and compassion, by my impatience, by my judgmentalism? Do I make life difficult by my grumbling or complaining when I encounter difficulties? Do I realize that discipleship is costly? And, do I realize, that, like Paul, I sometimes need other disciples to help me get up when I am down?
Jesus tells us before returning to the Father that, like Him, our journey of faith will encounter hard times. Many times, the difficulties we encounter are unexpected: friends and family turn against us or we are shunned because of our beliefs. Doors are closed in our faces when we think that what we are doing is something to be welcomed or appreciated, or, at least, not blocked.
Jesus says to us not to be afraid, for He has conquered the world, that is the ruler of this world, Satan. We, too, empowered by the Holy Spirit, will overcome the world of sin, of selfishness, of fear--of all that is not of God. And, like Jesus, we will learn obedience from what we suffer,as did St. Paul, St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Frances Streitel, the Foundress of my religious community, to name a few.
These are my beliefs! What are yours?