Today’s reading from Acts tells the story of the first believers to call themselves Christians in Antioch. They were persecuted from without and divided within, but drawn together by the power of the Spirit. Being a Christian then as now means overcoming internal and external strife through the power of the Spirit. Acts tells us that many of the Christians in Antioch came there after the martyrdom of Stephen in Jerusalem [Acts 8:1-4]. There was division in the Church of Antioch, whether to preach only to Jews or also to Gentiles. Many Gentiles accepted God’s word and the community came to see that God’s word is for all.

By the power of the Spirit the Church of Antioch overcame persecution and internal division to show Christ to the world. The call for the today’s Church is the same. The same Spirit shows the way.

—Matthew Dunch, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying theology in preparation for ordination, at Regis College in Toronto. He previously taught at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH.