BEFORE THE CROSS | Every situation can be used to spread the Good News

Before the Cross - Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's Column

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A priest I know from Florida was recently returning from a foreign country. When he went through customs they asked him if he had anything to declare. With a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face, he responded: "Yes. Jesus Christ is Lord!"

It wasn't the response they were expecting; still, his declaration elicited several "Amens" from the customs agents.

This simple (and true!) story highlights one of the main themes from the readings this week. Every situation is an opportunity to proclaim the Good News.

Paul and Barnabas were in Iconium. Gentile and Jewish leaders there planned to stone them. So they fled to Lystra and proclaimed the Good News there.

In Lystra, Paul healed a man lame from birth. As a result, the residents of the town thought Paul and Barnabas were gods, and offered sacrifices to them. Their misunderstanding became an opportunity for Paul and Barnabas to proclaim the truth about God to them.

The Jewish leaders from Antioch and Iconium got together, found Paul in Lystra, and stoned him. But the stoning didn't kill him. So Paul and Barnabas went to Derbe and proclaimed the Good News there.

Everything that happens in these readings, good or bad, is an opportunity to proclaim the Good News that Jesus is Lord, and rose from the dead. Do we approach our days with the same expectation?

Next, a dispute arose about whether or not Gentile converts needed to be circumcised to follow Christ. Jesus had left no explicit instructions on this, so Paul took the question to the apostles. The apostles gathered to pray, think and talk it over. The Holy Spirit guided them to see that circumcision wasn't necessary for followers of Christ, and they sent this news to the Christian communities.

And then something very instructive happened: Paul and Timothy were bringing the message of the apostles to Jewish communities, and Paul had Timothy circumcised for this mission. What's going on? Didn't we just learn that circumcision wasn't necessary?

Paul knew that Timothy didn't have to be circumcised for his own salvation. But he also knew that the Jewish audience might suspect that Timothy was only enthusiastic about the message because he gained something from it. Timothy's circumcision made the message easier for the Jewish audience to hear and accept, leading to their salvation.

What if we approached our faith life in the same spirit? Instead of asking, "What's the minimum required of me for my own salvation?" we might ask, "How can my faith and life bring maximum benefit to others?"

Funny, that seemed to be the pastoral method of Jesus, too.

At every step of the readings this week, something seems to stand in the way of the Gospel. At every step, the apparent obstacle turns into an opportunity to share the Good News. And as the Good News is proclaimed the question becomes: What do I have to do in my own life to make it easier for others to hear and accept it?

So, do you have anything to declare? 


Appointments

Rev. Msgr. Dennis R. Stehly, currently pastor of Ste. Genevieve Parish in Ste. Genevieve, is appointed vicar general/moderator of the curia, effective June 27, 2017.

Rev. Michael P. Boehm, is appointed vicar general, while continuing his appointment as vicar for priests, effective June 27, 2017.

Rev. Mr. Gerson Parra, newly ordained transitional deacon, is appointed to assist the pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in St. Charles, effective June 1, 2017.

Rev. Mr. Philiphraj Rathinam, newly ordained transitional deacon, is appointed to assist the pastor of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish, Oakville, effective June 1, 2017.

Rev. Mr. Christopher M. Rubie, newly ordained transitional deacon, is appointed to assist the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Dardenne Prairie, effective June 1, 2017.

Rev. Mr. Daniel Koko-Oleko, with the permission of his bishop of the Diocese of Tshumbe, Democratic Republic of Congo, is appointed to assist the pastor of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in St. Louis, effective June 1, 2017.

Deacon Ronald LeFors, a permanent deacon assisting the pastor of St. Angela Merici Parish and the Catholic Education Office, has relocated to the Diocese of Tyler, Texas. 

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