full speed ahead
"His disciples quickly formed a circle about him, and before long he got up and went back into the town." —Acts 14:20
In Lystra, Paul was beaten unconscious and possibly murdered. He was dramatically healed and/or raised from the dead. At this point, most of us would think that it's time to go home because things were obviously getting out of hand. We would probably think of "making a retreat."
However, Paul saw adversity not as a call to retreat, but as an opportunity for even more intense initiative. First, Paul had the "guts" to go back into Lystra. The next day he left for Derbe where he "made numerous disciples" (Acts 14:21). Then he went back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch in Pisidia, "encouraged them to persevere in the faith," and installed elders (Acts 14:22-23). After preaching in Perga, only then did Paul return home to Antioch in Syria.
Often our work doesn't begin to bear fruit until, like grains of wheat, we fall to the earth and die (Jn 12:24). Often adversity is a green light rather than a red one. Paul said: "Fresh from the humiliation we had suffered at Philippi — about which you know — we drew courage from our God to preach His good tidings to you in the face of great opposition" (1 Thes 2:2). New sufferings call for new initiatives.
Prayer: Father, give me the courage to charge when I feel like retreating.
Promise: "My peace is My gift to you; I do not give it to you as the world gives peace. Do not be distressed or fearful." —Jn 14:27
Praise: The bas-relief of St. Achilleus' martyrdom in 304 is the earliest such memorial. Praise God for giving St. Achilleus the grace to win the crown of martyrdom.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape Evangelization on audio AV 55-1 and AV 55-3 or video V-55.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 3, 2008
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