Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Fri, 04/05/2012 – 09:35
Year B (2011-2012)
Bible Book: Acts / Handelinge
Chapter: 9
Verse: 26 – 31
Text: Acts 9: 26 – 31; John 15: 1-8

Today’s readings are very challenging. In the first one Paul, recently converted, arrives in Jerusalem and tries to engage with the disciples. His previous terrifying reputation and their personal past experiences of him creates a great barrier between them and they will have nothing to do with him. Into the picture steps Barnabas, one of the disciples, who was known, trusted and respected. He speaks for Paul and shares how Paul is a changed man, who has been fearlessly witnessing to the Lord.

On the strength of Barnabas’ report, Paul is fully accepted and the rest is history. Paul brings great blessings to the disciples and to the early church and authors the celebrated letters of scripture.

How many times, in our lives, are there opportunities for us to speak up on behalf of another? Sometimes this may involve standing alone, possibly being ridiculed, misunderstood or equally stigmatized because of our association or support for the other. How many blessings have we missed, when we have failed to follow our conscience, and have remained silent or considered it ‘really none of my business’?

The second reading is the well known challenge of Jesus: ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’ This reading is interesting because it is different to all the other references to vines and vineyards in scripture. Prior to this, vineyards were used as an analogy referring to the Israelites as a nation and God caring for them[1]. Here, however, Jesus personalizes the vines, challenging the disciples in their individual capacity: ‘Except you abide in me.’ We are called to make personal choices in our daily walk with the Lord and our commitment to Him. We cannot hide within the crowd. This may mean, at times, standing alone for what is right. It may mean identifying with the marginalized, rejected and the stigmatized. It may cost us, but what blessings may be in store for us, knowing we are not alone and that He abides in us?

Not My Business[2]

They picked Akanni up one morning
Beat him soft like clay
And stuffed him down the belly
Of a waiting jeep.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?

They came one night
Booted the whole house awake
And dragged Danladi out,
Then off to a lengthy absence.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth

Chinwe went to work one day
Only to find her job was gone:
No query, no warning, no probe –
Just one neat sack for a stainless record.
What business of mine is it
So long they don’t take the yam
From my savouring mouth?

And then one evening
As I sat down to eat my yam
A knock on the door froze my hungry hand.
The jeep was waiting on my bewildered lawn
Waiting, waiting in its usual silence.

[1] ‘What more could I have done for my nation Israel?’ Isaiah 5: 1-7

[2] Niyi Osundare, Nigerian poet

To think about: Have we ever remained silent when people with HIV are being vilified, stigmatized and rejected? Have we ever turned away from situations where we knew something was happening that was not right and our conscience was calling us to react differently but we justified our actions to ourselves? What is our Lord saying to us?

Author: Parry S (Dr)
Language: English

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