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An Instrument of Salvation, How?

First Reading: Acts 13:44-52

On the following sabbath
almost the whole city
gathered to hear the word of the Lord.
When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy
and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said.
Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said,
“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first,
but since you reject it
and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life,
we now turn to the Gentiles.
For so the Lord has commanded us,
I have made you a light to the Gentiles,
that you may be an instrument of salvation
to the ends of the earth.”

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this
and glorified the word of the Lord.
All who were destined for eternal life came to believe,
and the word of the Lord continued to spread
through the whole region.
The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers
and the leading men of the city,
stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas,
and expelled them from their territory.
So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them
and went to Iconium.
The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98:1, 2-3AB, 3CD-4

R. (3cd) All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

Gospel: John 14:7-14

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to Jesus,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.
And whatever you ask in my name, I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”

NAB

DEV_A23

In today’s reading, Saint Paul tells us: For so the Lord has commanded us, I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.

And from Jesus: Amen, amen, I say to you, Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, And will do greater ones than these.

So, on the one hand, that is awesome. I’m a light. An instrument of salvation. In possession of a latent ability to perform extraordinary miracles. It makes me want to get myself some knee-high boots and a cape.

But on the other hand, that is overwhelming. To the ends of the earth is a long way. How can I be a light in a world filled with darkness? In a world celebrating darkness? Am I responsible for the salvation of my friends? My co-workers? My husband? My children? My parish priest? The UPS guy? People who are wrong on Facebook?

It can feel like a burden. It can feel like if I don’t come up with just the right response to a co-worker’s joke about Catholics, I just lost my chance to evangelize the whole workplace. Or if a friend asks me a Catholic social teaching question that I don’t know the answer to, then her little smoldering ember of faith will be snuffed out forever.

It’s easy to get caught up in worrying whether we’ll say or do just the right thing at just the right moment.

But lights and instruments can’t accomplish anything on their own. They’re not meant to.

It is not saying or doing just the right thing in the moment that will bring our friends and loved ones and acquaintances to a deeper relationship with God. The Holy Spirit will do that. Our job is to focus on living a life of faith and hope and love. Our job is to be the best wife and friend and parent we can be. To pray for others. To make sacrifices. To receive the Sacraments. To inform our consciences. To tell the truth in charity. To let God do the rest.

I might be the “instrument” but God is doing the wielding. The shovel doesn’t have to worry about what it’s going to dig. It just has to be there. Being the best little shovel it can be. Trusting in the digger to do the rest.

photo credit

Kendra Tierney lives in Los Angeles, CA where her interests include blogging, homeschooling, looking after her eight children, and fixing up a hundred year old tumbledown mansion. You can find out more about her here.

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