Today’s passage from the Acts of the Apostles reads like a clip from a Hollywood movie! First, we see Paul and Barnabas fleeing to Asia Minor to avoid an attack by Jews and Gentiles in Iconium, in modern day Turkey. As Luke tells the story, Paul was speaking to a man who had never walked in his life, but Paul “saw that he had the faith to be healed,” so he told the man to “stand up straight on [his] feet.” When the crowds saw this, they assumed that Paul and Barnabas must themselves be gods and began offering sacrifices to them! The apostles attempted to redirect the people of Lystra, telling them that this healing is not about themselves but is the work of the “living God” who has sent them. They tell the people how easy it is to see and believe in this living God… Simply look around at the natural world, which provides “witness” to God’s presence and grace! It is the living God who has given “you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and [filled] you with food and your hearts with joy.” We, too, are reminded to leave behind the things that distract us and seek the living God from whom all things flow.
Similarly in our gospel reading, Jesus points out to the disciples that the words he speaks are not solely his own but originate from God, his Father. Jesus is the doorway through which we walk but he is always guiding us to the Source, who is greater than he is. Jesus says, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our dwelling with them.” In the gospel of John, the word or commandment to which Jesus refers is, of course, to love one another. Jesus is speaking about a mutual indwelling of love: the Father loves the Son and when we keep the commandment to love others, we are a part of this holy love story. St. Ignatius’s First Principle and Foundation reminds us of this: that we are from love, of love, and for love. When Love dwells within us, our will is to let that love spill out to our families, our communities, and our world! And, as Paul and Barnabas, the Psalmist, and the Society of Jesus remind us, it is all for the greater glory of God.
There is so much to ponder in our scriptures today, I hope that you will let yourself sink into them and see what stands out for you. In what ways do you need to be healed? Does your faith give you the conviction that you will be? Or perhaps you have the power to heal… What do you feel called to heal? Is something distracting you from seeing the living God? How and where do you witness God’s presence and grace? Above all, how do you experience yourself as unconditionally loved by the living God? What does it mean to you that Love dwells within you? How are you called to love the world today?