This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.” (John 6:40)
Our first reading today begins by telling us that great persecution arose against the church following the death of Stephen, but ends with this line: “So there was much joy in that city.” (Acts 8:8). This tells us that God knows how to write straight on crooked lines.
Perhaps Philip would not have known he had such powerful spiritual gifts if he had not fled Jerusalem at the time of the persecution. Truly, we would never know what God has deposited in us until we face hard times. Like food that has to be cooked before its nutritional value for our health comes out, hardship helps to cook us so that our value comes out.
Recently, I learned about the theory of three great obstacles to success whether in the spiritual life or any aspect of life. They are: 1. The Fear of Change, 2. The Path of Least Resistance, and 3. The Quest for Short-Cuts. The bottom line of these three is the strong desire in us humans to avoid suffering by all means or as Jesus puts it, choosing the wide road instead of the narrow path.
The book of Sirach 2:1 says: “My child when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal.” Jesus says: “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of man comes.” (Matthew 10:23). This is exactly what plays out in today’s first reading. The Christians were forced to take the narrow path; they had to run for their lives but their very dispersal served the purpose of the Gospel.
Don’t give up on God when the going becomes tough. Those fighting you now may just be pushing you to your destined glory. They may even be making things easy for you indirectly. In today’s Gospel passage, the crowd sought Jesus because they wanted a repeat of the miracle of the loaves. Jesus was offering something far better than ordinary bread but at that time, they did not understand. You might be praying for something and yet God is preparing something far better for you. Don’t give up now. God knows what He is doing.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, save me from all forms of discouragement and despair. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 8:1-8, Ps.66:1-7, John 6:35-40)*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu