Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 145 I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God; Revelation 21:1-5; John 13:31-33,34-35
What we don't get in today's first reading is really worth exploring.
Paul's words in today's first reading, "It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" have a greater impact if we read what precedes this conversation he is having with the church of Lystra and Iconic.
Paul has been here before. On his previous visit some jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and they "stoned paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead."
When Paul speaks about trials and undergoing hardships he isn't just whistling Dixie. He is speaking with first hand experience. In fact, as Paul is speaking to the disciples the wounds of being stoned to death are probably still very visible. The cuts and bruises on his face are there for every one to see. He is standing before them some what mangled from the beating he received, bloodied and bandaged with scars testifying to his own perseverance.
Talk about clout.
Persecution became for them their daily bread as disciples in the early church.
What about us? It isn't persecution but complacency that has become our daily bread as disciples.
How do we reawaken that missionary zeal and spirit that moved the disciples beyond complacency into willingness to embrace the sufferings and undergo the trials?
The disciples in the early church understood Jesus command and took it to heart: As i have loved you should also love.
Jesus was willing to make his life a total self-gift for the good of the other and the disciples in the early church understood that the proclamation of the good news was worth all the good that suffering could not deter them.