Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 12,24-13,5

The word of God continued to spread and to gain followers. Barnabas and Saul completed their task at Jerusalem and came back, bringing John Mark with them. In the church at Antioch the following were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. One day while they were offering worship to the Lord and keeping a fast, the Holy Spirit said, 'I want Barnabas and Saul set apart for the work to which I have called them.' So it was that after fasting and prayer they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So these two, sent on their mission by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and from there set sail for Cyprus. They landed at Salamis and proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; John acted as their assistant.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The author of Acts emphasizes that it is the Spirit who guides the mission of the Church and shows it by saying synthetically: "The word of God continued to advance and gain adherents." We should reflect that Luke is not talking about the numeric growth of the disciples or their geographic spread; he is talking about the growth of Word of God. When a community grows in number, it is in fact the Word that grows and multiplies. Christians are men and women inhabited by the Word of God; they grow and spread if the Gospel grows and spreads. The growth of the Church is not of external nature rather spiritual. The community grows when the Gospel and its power of change are proclaimed. Luke emphasizes this as if to show that persecutions and difficulties did not stop the growth because, precisely, it is the Gospel that grows, speaks, and works. Certainly, the Gospel walks with the disciples. The notation that Barnabas and Saul set out from Antioch and began their first missionary journey expresses that their mission flows from the power of the Word of God that sustains and guides them. One might say that they are carried by the Word of God, rather than the other way around. This is the meaning of the words that follow: while the community was gathered for prayer, the voice of the Lord was heard saying: "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." Indeed, the mission of the Gospel is first and foremost the work of God rather than a human decision. And prayer remains the place from which life flows for every community.