ACTS 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."
I love this opening line of today's first reading.
First in reminds us that persecution will always come. People, different groups of people, will do their best to eliminate the church of Christ founded. Jesus said in the gospel, if they persecute me they will persecute you.
Persecution means we are doing something right. We are living the faith. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be.
The new persecution is not surprising. ISIS is just another in along list of those who sought to destroy the Christians, and the church. Good luck with that I say. Jesus will watch over us. His Sprit will empower us. He who destroyed death will stand with us as we journey forth.
Secondly, I note that all were scattered. The Christians were on the run, perhaps avoiding persecution or perhaps just making it difficult for the persecutors. A moving target is always harder to hit.
While there were scattered, they weren't hiding out. Rather, they were preaching the word, "Those who had been scattered went about preaching the word." How awesome is that.
The persecutees were not cowering in fear but were more embolden then ever.
Lastly, as the Christians were scattered, the Apostles were not. They remain where they were. They were not backing down. This is the kind of bishops we need today. I think of Archbishop Cordileone in San Francisco where much persecution is coming from inside the church.
Wow! How times have changed. The greatest threat to the church isn't the outsiders but those who claim to actually be faithful to the church. Strange.
We keep moving forth. We keep preaching the word. We trust God's good grace will shine through.