Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’" When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord; and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region.
Today is Friday the 14 February, the Feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius.
The monks of Pluscarden Abbey sing the Nunc dimittis ‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; for my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations’.
Today’s reading is from the Acts of the Apostles.
“To the ends of the earth” … How do you feel when you think about the ends of the earth, about the immensity of the universe? When was the last time you were able to gaze at the night sky? What words come to mind – awe and wonder? … apprehension? … delight? … or is there a feeling that doesn’t need a word? And then imagine how the word of God is spread throughout it all …
Paul and Barnabas say here that their listeners reject the word of God and ‘judge themselves to be unworthy’. Quite often the reason why people reject God’s message is precisely that – they can’t believe they are worthy, they can’t believe the good news that God cares so much for them. Am I ever tempted to think that way? – to doubt God’s message and my importance in God’s plan?
As you hear the reading a second time, imagine yourself in the crowd, standing there listening to Paul and Barnabas. Hear the words that they address, not to a bunch of strangers, but to you. What would it be like if God said to you that you were wanted for such a mission? Would you doubt your worthiness or your ability to be part of it? What would you need, to be able to do it?
What would get in the way of your doing it? Pray for the particular strength that you need at this moment.