The reading from the Acts of the Apostles for today’s liturgy fits into the first purpose of this book; namely to record the phenomenal growth of the early Christian community. We hear some more about a previously introduced character by the name of Barnabas. You might remember that it was he who sold his farm and laid the proceeds of the sale at the feet of the apostles for the general use of the community. In today’s reading he is sent by the Church of Jerusalem to investigate the claims that the citizens of Phoenicia, Cyprus, Cyrene, and Antioch had professed their faith in Jesus. When Barnabas arrived, so impressed with them was he that he encouraged them and went to get Saul of Tarsus to assist him in the mission with which he had been entrusted. They stayed in Antioch for a full year instructing the people in the faith and encouraging them in their call to follow the Lord Jesus. The reading concludes with the information that it was in Antioch that followers of Jesus were first called Christian. Previously, those who professed faith in Jesus had been known as people who were on “The Way.”
The term "Christ" comes from the Greek "christos" which is translated "anointed." By association, it has also come to be synonymous with the word "Messiah" since such a person would have been anointed as such. The term was actually applied to many figures in Jewish Scripture and lore and designated any person who held a role of leadership in the Hebrew community. When we refer to Jesus as the Christ (Jesus Christ), we are acknowledging him as the Messiah, the anointed one. However, as the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, we also bear that name.
When we are baptized or confirmed or ordained, we are all anointed with chrism, a mixture of olive oil and perfumes. Christian kings are also chrismated. Priests and bishops are anointed with chrism when they are ordained. Anointing is an ancient practice that sets someone apart, marks them as individuals chosen by God and by God's people.
To be called Christian, therefore, is a vocation to be highly cherished and esteemed. We could do nothing more important that to stop and remember each morning as we set upon the activity of the day that we are God's chosen, ambassadors for Jesus, the Christ. CUSANS begin each morning with a special prayer of offering, consecrating their day and uniting themselves with Jesus, the crucified Savior. All Christians would do well to begin each day in a similar fashion, offering themselves to God to be used as God sees fit to bring about God’s reign.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator