Saturday’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles might make us a little dizzy. In the space of a few short verses, we hear the names of Derby, Lystra, Iconium, Phrygia, Galatia, Mysia, and Macedonia. When we hear of all these places, it becomes readily apparent that St. Paul did not let any moss grow on him. He was constantly on the move, preaching the Good News of Jesus’ Resurrection.
We are also introduced to the character of Timothy to whom two of the letters of the New Testament are addressed. Timothy was the child of a Jewish woman and a Greek father. Because the Jews believed that their Jewish heritage passed through the birth mother, Timothy would have been considered Jewish by cultural standards. Consequently, St. Paul had him circumcised once he became a Christian. This might be a little confusing because of the readings that we heard just previous to this. However, this is not a case of a Gentile becoming a Christian. Rather, this is a case of an uncircumcised Jew becoming a Christian. In order to claim his Jewish heritage, Paul had him undergo the ritual.
The other factor that becomes very clear in this reading is that Paul’s journeys were decided by the Spirit. If the Spirit did not want him to enter a certain city or country, some obstacle appeared that forced St. Paul to change his plans. Again, St. Luke is making sure that we understand that while Paul is doing the preaching (and the walking), it is God who is directing the ministry, God who is making the decisions.
Today would be an appropriate time for us to dwell on that question in our own lives. Does God make the decisions in our lives? Do we even bother to ask what God wants us to do? Our culture prides itself on being in charge of our own lives. Perhaps we have fallen into the habit of simply doing what we want to do rather than actually stopping and asking about God’s will for us.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator