vv. 23-29 There is an expression used by combat soldiers, “Point man takes the fire.” How is that applicable to doing evangelistic work for Christ? What might Mark 8:34-38 say to that?
vv. 26-31 Note who came to Paul’s aid (Barnabas means “son of encouragement’). But also see what happened to Barnabas (and St. Peter) in Gal 2:11-16. WHY do you think that happened? What is the risk and application for us? How do we avoid that trap? Gal 1:6-10 might help guide our answer.
vv.32-43 These verses change our focus from Paul (for a short while) and turns to Peter for the next few chapters. We return to Paul in chapter 13 for his first missionary journey. In this section we find the Lord working miracles of healing (even raising someone from the dead), and then the set up for the story of Cornelius. It is at this point (chapter 10) that Luke emphasizes the gospel being now taken beyond the Jews and to the Gentiles.
The whole of Acts can be summed up in one word: Missionary. Or perhaps, Evangelism. Or perhaps a joining of the terms: Missionary Evangelism. The Catechism (para 851) teaches us: Because she believes in God's universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.
What are some ways you can be a missionary to your friends, neighbors, families? Perhaps the words of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, might help guide our answer, as also might the comments of Pope Benedict:
Fr. Pedro Arrupe: Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, falling in love [with Him] in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with seizes your imagination; it will affect everything. It will decide what gets you out of bed in the morning, what you will do in the evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, what you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love [with God], stay in love, and it will decide everything."
Pope Benedict, in his comments on May 30, 2011, stressed the urgency of evangelizing modern society, saying that Christians today face the task of reaching a world that grows increasingly apathetic to the message of the Gospel. He said: It is important to make them understand that being Christian is not a type of outfit that one wears in private or on special occasions, but something living and totalizing, capable of taking all that is good in modernity.
And then there are the thoughts of Thomas a Kempis:
What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God?
Now put it all together and answer the question posed at the beginning of verses 32-43: What are some ways you can become missionary to your friends, family, neighbors?
We move into chapter 10 next time.