St Paul and the call to Missionary Work

The first reading from Acts this morning (1:1-10) shows really a ‘whistle-stop’ journey of St Paul round Asia Minor. However the vision he has in a dream at the end of someone saying to him ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us’, which leads us to the next stage of the story, has become a classic incident in Paul’s ministry and is often used to strengthen Christians leaving one place for another to act as missionaries or to help people in other countries. We’re often called by God to leave familiar surroundings and help those in need, either people in practical need, suffering from poverty or starvation, or people in spiritual need, to share the gospel of Jesus (and often people assist in both ways) – hence this depiction of the dream. Historically Christians in the UK and Ireland have often answered this call – to go overseas to help those who suffer most in the world as missionaries, health workers or aid workers.

This call is likely to become more urgent in the future, once it is possible to travel abroad. Catholic aid organisations and others have shown us repeatedly that for all the inconveniences most of us in this country are experiencing (some of which are pretty trivial, if we’re honest) are dwarfed by what people are experiencing because of Covid-19 in poor countries, much of which is being kept quiet by unscrupulous governments. The task of alleviating their sufferings will remain urgent once we have come out of restrictions in this country. The call also reminds all of us not to give in to self-pity in this country, to get our priorities right.

God bless and take care
Fr Ashley

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