14 May Tuesday
Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch in Syria where they began their first missionary journey. What started as a mission to the Jews by speaking in the synagogues, son became a mission to the Greeks and Romans, the gentiles. To celebrate the Church gathers to hear the story and approve of their work.
Along the way, several important things happen. One, is the appointing of elders over the churches. The Greek word is “presbyters”, which got contracted and corrupted into English as the word “priests”. The Greek word for “priests” is almost entirely avoided by every author to designate any sort of leadership role in the apostolic church. Two, the mission to the Jews was based on a continuity, whereas the first reading to the peoples of the nations was based a larger plan of God. Paul uses first an argument from Isaiah, the light to the nations motif, and then a natural law argument about the unity of the human family. The gentiles welcome them in Antioch of Pisidia, Iconic, and Lystra with joy, and at attempt at sacrifice!
The point here is the beginning of the great ingathering of the human family that appears in the Book of Revelation. This reconciling and community building work is still the mission of the Church today. I have to ask myself constantly how does this appear in reality in the parish?