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Sisters in Faith

First Reading: Acts 11:19-26

Those who had been scattered by the persecution
that arose because of Stephen
went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch,
preaching the word to no one but Jews.
There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however,
who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well,
proclaiming the Lord Jesus.
The hand of the Lord was with them
and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem,
and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch.
When he arrived and saw the grace of God,
he rejoiced and encouraged them all
to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart,
for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.
And a large number of people was added to the Lord.
Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul,
and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch.
For a whole year they met with the Church
and taught a large number of people,
and it was in Antioch that the disciples
were first called Christians.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 87:1B-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (117:1a) All you nations, praise the Lord.
His foundation upon the holy mountains
the LORD loves:
The gates of Zion,
more than any dwelling of Jacob.
Glorious things are said of you,
O city of God!
R. All you nations, praise the Lord.
I tell of Egypt and Babylon
among those who know the LORD;
Of Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia:
“This man was born there.”
And of Zion they shall say:
“One and all were born in her;
And he who has established her
is the Most High LORD.”
R. All you nations, praise the Lord.
They shall note, when the peoples are enrolled:
“This man was born there.”
And all shall sing, in their festive dance:
“My home is within you.”
R. All you nations, praise the Lord.

Gospel: John 10:22-30

The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem.
It was winter.
And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him,
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?
If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.
But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.
My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

NAB

DEV_A19

“Ladies, during your lunch break, please take a moment to stop by the map hanging by the food tables to “pin” where you traveled from!”

These were the instructions I heard last month when I had the opportunity to attend Blessed is She’s first annual retreat in Arizona—an amazing day that was filled with fellowship, prayer, and worship. By the time I got around to eating lunch, mingling with some new friends, and finding the large United States map, I was excited to find that two other pins had already been added to Minnesota. “This is so awesome!” I thought as I stared at the map which had thumb tacks scattered from coast to coast.

As I reflected on today’s readings—and especially the First Reading—I couldn’t help but think about that map. Just as the earliest followers were scattered throughout Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, so too were the retreat attendees from different parts of the country. And just as the earliest followers may have been carpenters, fisherman, or tax collectors, so too were the retreat attendees living their lives as stay-at-home mothers, dentists, or teachers, to name a few.

Despite all of the differences with geography, career paths, or life stages, one common thread remained between those earliest followers and the women from the retreat: the belief that Jesus is Lord.

It is because of this shared belief that I was able to walk up to complete strangers at this retreat and feel totally welcomed, and it is because of this shared belief that I am able to write to you today.

And so, my dear sisters, let’s be sheep in Jesus’ flock. Let’s gather together and offer one another the encouragement that we all need sometimes in life—to be that shoulder to cry on, the ear to share exciting news with, or the hand to hold when times are tough.

What one thing can you do today to build up your sisters in Christ? Perhaps you have a friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Give her a call and catch up. Maybe there’s a new woman you’ve noticed at your parish. Say hello to her the next time you see her and introduce yourself. Whatever it is that you do, know that it is not going unnoticed.

photo credit

Joan Geiger is a North Dakota native and newlywed, and in her spare time she can be found going on adventures with her husband, working as a Registered Dietitian, and drinking coffee. You can find out more about her here.

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