19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none except Jews.20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus.
21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number that believed turned to the Lord.22 News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad; and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose;24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a large company was added to the Lord.
25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul;26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church, and taught a large company of people; and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians.
22 It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem;23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.24 So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me;
26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me;28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.30 I and the Father are one.”
St LUKE report that whilst Stephen’s death led many disciples to flee from Jerusalem to Antioch, it was not so to speak a loss for the Christian Church, instead these men unrelentingly preached the message of Christ to their host countrymen who called them Christians. When this good news reached the Apostles in Jerusalem they dispatched Barnabas a loyal disciple, to offer support and to also track down and accompany Saul who was not yet confirmed in the Church. This opportunity allowed Saul who spoke the local language to translate the disciples message, moreover he was able to learn much from Barnabas and the other disciples of Christ.
THE GOSPEL READING: On the day of dedication, also known as Chanukah, a festival that commemorate the occasion when Judah Maccabee and his father Mattathias together with a group named Chasidim, revolted against the oppresive dictates of king Antiochus who massacred the priests for refusing to sacrifice pigs in the Temple. Knowing the historical significance of this feast day, the Jews used the occasion to entrap Christ, hoping that He would announce that He together with the disciples and followers would end the Roman occupation of Judah. Recognizing the underhanded veiled trap, Christ reject the false assumptions referring instead to the “works”—transformative healing miracles—which evidence His vocation as a shepherd, who is called to gather and protect His sheep so they not be snatched by Satan.
It has become common for us Christian believers to not celebrate and observe religious ‘Holy Days’ with prayer and Thanksgiving by attending Holy Mass. Instead these days that were set aside for us to surrender to Christ with works of mercy, charity, prayer, meditation and learn, has regrettably morphed into secular wordly ‘holidays’ with parties and or events that are at odds with the teachings of Christ and our call to be true witnesses. We are called to reafirm and rededicate ourselves to Christ instead of appealing to festivals promoted by secular pundits, whose agenda contradict and is counterintuitive to the Word of God.
LET US PRAY:Psalms 87:1-7
1 A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. A Song.
On the holy mount stands the city he founded;2 the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God. [Selah]4 Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon; behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia– “This one was born there,” they say.5 And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her.6 The LORD records as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” [Selah]7 Singers and dancers alike say, “All my springs are in you.”
Commentary. Henry R SYLVESTER Note: The daily scripture readings are taken from the Roman Missal which the Catholic Church use in the daily Celebration of the Holy Eucharist throughout the world.Some weekly readings may differ because of the celebration of local feast days.
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