Acts 14:21-27

After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, then on to Iconium and Antioch. There they strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God.”

And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe. Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

God Works Through Everyone

We love the Pauls and Barnabases of the Church, the freerolling heroes of mission work, hopping from place to place, the wind at their backs and infinite possibilities ahead, their strength in facing whatever adversity may come. But we, the Church, are so much larger, so much more beautiful, and so much more diverse than these Pauls and Barnabases. Saint Ignatius knew this and so he called everyone, no matter their state of life, to take time in retreat and prayer with the creative God who can and will work through everyone. Even Paul and Barnabas knew this, appointing elders for each church, strengthening its disciples and letting it thrive locally.

I may not be a Paul or Barnabas, but where’s my local Church? Right here and now? What’s my role in it? Where do I need my spirit strengthened to go a step deeper?

—Fr. Garrett Gundlach, SJ, is a Jesuit priest of the Midwest Province studying Arabic and interfaith dialogue at the University of Saint Joseph in Beirut, Lebanon. 

Prayer

Creative God of every breadth and depth,
The only thing more marvelous and wondrous
Than your power or your love is your call –
That you might not only come to us, but call us
Into the same spread of the Good News that you yourself desire so deeply.
You call us – you call me –
into friendship,
into coworking,
into a role in the Church that matches
my deepest desires, hopes and skills.
Thank you for the gift of the Pauls and Barnabas’ of our world,
Those inspiring leaders and teachers,
But thank you for your call, thank you for your attention to even me,
Your small servant here and now in my little part of the Church-
Enliven me in my mission, every bit as big and beautiful as our heroes’ mission.
Help us to live our missions together.
We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ,
The one who called his disciples and calls us, face-to-face.
Amen.

—Fr. Garrett Gundlach, SJ