Commentary on the Gospel of
“Proclaim the Good News to all.”
Certain Christian fundamentalists seize literally on this gospel text, speaking in tongues, handling snakes, and effecting cures through the laying on of hands. Apart from the latter, these “signs” of faith seem not to have played a role in the community that followed Jesus, or in the early church. In contrast, the Acts of the Apostles focuses on a very different form of miraculous sign: the conversion of Saul, a zealous persecutor of the church, who as Paul will become one of its most effective missionaries. Saul had participated in the death of Stephen, the first martyr in the church. He was on a mission to Damascus to seek out Christians for punishment when he was thrown from his horse and confronted by the voice of the Lord: “I am Jesus whom you persecute.”
When he went on to proclaim the gospel, the Christians were astonished—and no doubt suspicious. But there was no doubting his faith and conviction. In the words of the famous hymn: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, and now am found, was blind and now I see.” There are signs even more marvelous—and more productive--than picking up snakes or drinking poison.