Paul is in the synagogue in Antioch in today’s first reading. The synagogue officials ask if anyone has a word of exhortation for the people. Paul accepts the invitation. In the Gospel from John 13, we hear Jesus saying, “Whoever receives the one I send receives me.”
I was intrigued by the invitation given in today’s reading from Acts. I looked up the word “exhortation.” Here’s what Webster has to say: Language intended to incite and encourage; advice; counsel; admonition. Hmm…if we’re talking about our spiritual lives, this sounds a bit like evangelization to me. Inciting. Encouraging. Advising. Counseling.
So often times, I’m afraid, our words are negative. We engage in gossip. We say unkind things about other people. We tear others down, thinking that it will make us look better in the eyes of the hearer. Guilty as charged? Yep, me, too. Let’s pledge to break out of that cycle. Let’s exhort people - inspire and encourage them. Lots of folks are feeling angry and beaten down these days. I think you’ll be amazed at what a word of exhortation can do to brighten someone’s day.
Father, help us to speak inspiring and encouraging words. Give us a word of exhortation today for someone who needs to hear it. Amen.
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