Acts 8:1-8; PS 66 Let all the earth cry out to God with joy; John 6:35-40
"There broke out a severe persecution of the Church in Jerusalem, and all were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria, except the Apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made loud lament over him. Saul, meanwhile, was trying to destroy the church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.
Now those who had been scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city."
The above is the first reading for Mass today on this wednesday the third week of Easter. The church has come along way from its beginning.
Lets look at the underlined parts of the reading.
Remember after the burial of Jesus and on the third day when rumors abound that Jesus was risen. Where were the Apostles? They were huddled together in fear. What were they afraid of? Well, who knows but the fact of the matter fear had paralyzed them. so much so that they door to the upper room where they were was locked.
From that fear filled night to the out pouring of the Holy Spirit something happened. These scared, petrified men were no longer paralyzed by fear. Rather they are empowered to stand their ground, to grit their teeth at the darkness, and bear down upon the resistance with certitude and conviction.
While every one was scattered, the Apostles remained steadfast in their preaching. They did not give up ground but rather met the resistance head on. Every one except the Apostles were scattered.
That is what we need today from our Bishops. We should pray that they dig deep, stand fast, and face the resistance head on.
Secondly, notice that those who were scattered don't just tuck their tales and run and hide. They get busy spreading the word. Philip doesn't waste anytime in getting down to the brass tax as we say. It is important to note that those who caught to destroy the church actual help in making her grow. Now that is a good litmus test for us. Are we growing the church, growing the faint, spreading it around like good manure? Or are w just tucking our tales and hiding out?
Lastly, note that the writer of Acts tells us that their was Great joy in the city. What is the fruit of the labor of those seeking to destroy the church and those using it as an opportunity to grow the church: joy. Where Godlessness reigns and Jesus is absent t joy is lost. But just the opposite is true as well. Where Jesus is proclaimed, preached, lived, embraced no matter the circumstances joy abounds abundantly for all, not just for those who profess it. The whole city is filled with joy. Is our city filled with Joy? If not then maybe its because we do not testify as we are called forth to do in the name of Christ, in his Sprit, we go forth.