Fourth Sunday of Easter
1) Acts 13:14, 43-52
Psalm 100:1-3, 5
2) Rv 7:9, 14-17
Gospel: Jn 10:27-30
The theologians who created the cycles of biblical readings used in the liturgy decided that it would be best for us not to spend too much time in Antioch of Pisidia. This was a wise choice. If you turned to the person next to you at Mass and asked them where Antioch in Pisidia was located, what would they say?
“Hmm. Antioch in Pisidia. … Now, if you’d asked me about Antioch on the Orontes or Antioch on the Mygdonius, I could tell you in a minute. But Antioch in Pisidia — I’m blanking on that.” Yeah, right. No one has ever heard of Antioch in Pisidia.
Those who selected today’s excerpt from Acts of the Apostles decided that one day in Antioch of Pisidia would be enough. To offer just one reading of reasonable length on Paul and Barnabas’ time there, they dropped two-thirds of Luke’s account.
If you listen closely, you may notice that something is missing. We’re told that Paul and Barnabas go to the synagogue and sit down. Next thing we know, many Jews and gentiles are following them. How did that happen? Did people get inspired just by sitting next to the missionaries?
No. St. Paul delivered a homily in the synagogue. He reminded his fellow Jews and gentile visitors how God had shown the people of Israel his power to save. He announced that God has now brought his plan of salvation to fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth. This lengthy homily, omitted from today’s reading, is why so many people wanted to follow Paul and Barnabas.
If Paul had not spoken to the people in the synagogue about Jesus that Saturday morning, maybe they would have invited him to coffee after the service, but there wouldn’t have been anything for St. Luke to write about. Nothing important would have happened.
You can see where I’m going with this.
God has entrusted his word to us too. We have a responsibility to speak about him to other people. It might be a word about how we have experienced God’s love, an encouragement to seek him, an assurance that he is present in a dark situation, an explanation of the Gospel. Sometimes, if we speak, God’s word will have an effect. Often if we do not speak, nothing will happen.
By the way, Antioch in Pisidia was in present-day central Turkey.
Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.