Antioch is the scene for the reading today from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 11:11-26). Antioch lies in southern Turkey and at one time had an estimated population of nearly a half-million residents. In the time just after the death of Jesus of Nazareth, most of the folks in Antioch were gentiles.
Missionaries were successful in Antioch:
“The hand of the Lord was with them
and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.”
News of this reached the Church in Jerusalem who sent Barnabas 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.”
The hand of the Lord was with the people of Antioch because they were “faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart.”
I find it comforting that God reminds me today to be firm in my heart for my faith. This firmness has three characteristics for me:
Open - I am open to the Word of God. Prior to reading scripture, I prepare myself in prayer. This opens my heart and mind to the messages God wants me to hear today.
Dedicated – That Man Is You reinforced the lesson to dedicate my firstfruits to God each day. So, I wake early and spend time daily with God in prayer and reading scripture. Lately, I have been fortunate to go to daily mass as well. The key for me is the daily practice of Christianity.
Patience – Thanks be to God that my dad recognized my natural impatience and reminded me (often) to “have patience.” When I am open to the Holy Spirit, I can trust his guidance in my life. I can pray before I make an important choice in my life. I do not have to force a decision because I am impatient, fearful, or worried. Patience is not only a virtue, it is a gift.
What do you do to be firm in your faith?
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