Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter
My dear encountered couples:
This Gospel’s opening words are a bit startling. Jesus once again is talking with his disciples about the world. He tells them: “If the world hates you, understand that it hated me first.” In this passage, Jesus is using the word “world” to describe the people who reject Him and who will persecute Jesus and his followers.
The path of following Jesus isn’t easy. Are we truly ready to truly follow him? This is more than simply giving “lip service” to his teachings. If we consciously choose to follow Jesus, we may have to make difficult choices and in that process, we may alienate some of the people in our lives.
Are we truly ready to truly follow him? I am sure my imagining of the question is influenced by where I see our world today. We are in an in-between time, a place we did not choose to go. COVID-19 has inflicted excruciating physical, mental, and emotional pain on many people. At the same time, life has slowed down, allowing time for transformation. Like the disciples, we cannot go back to who we were pre-pandemic. We have no choice but to come to terms with our situation. However, we do have the freedom to choose how we integrate these experiences and who we become.
Some of us might be asking, “How can I decide what to do?” We see a glimpse of this at work in today's reading from the Acts of the Apostles (16:1-10). Paul and Timothy rely on the Holy Spirit to guide their teaching and missionary travels. By trusting God, and choosing to do the work God has in mind, “The churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number.”
In our time, the world looks back to the early church and sees the impact of the apostles' choice to follow in Christ's footsteps, no matter the cost.
When the world looks back at the COVID-19 pandemic, what will the world see about our choice to follow Christ?