From the Well - 4/5/2016

Acts 13:42-49 (NRSV) 
42 As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people urged them to speak about these things again the next sabbath. 43 When the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. 44 The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy; and blaspheming, they contradicted what was spoken by Paul. 46 Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, 'I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'" 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord; and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers. 49 Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region. 

During my junior year at Greensboro College, I was selected to be in the pool of persons eligible as a junior marshal.  Of the fifteen persons eligible only eight were needed.  A faculty member and four seniors were appointed to make the selection. I just knew that I would be one of the marshals. I could hardly wait to see my name on the program and to stand before the faculty, parents and students wearing my gold sash. I was devastated when I was not selected.

Some of you may remember when Pope John II appointed Col. Estermann as the new commander of the 100-member elite corps of the Swiss Guards who provide protection for the pope. It was the happiest moment of his life, as well as the pinnacle of his career.  It was a particularly noteworthy achievement since Estermann himself was not Swiss. Estermann the first non-Swiss to hold the position. Yet, within hours of the exciting moment Estermann and his wife lay dead on their apartment floor, the victims of a man whose fury was energized by self-pity.

The murderer, who committed suicide at the scene, was Cedrich Tornay, a youthful member of the Swiss Guards.  Tornay, unlike his fellow guards, was not slated to be recognized at an upcoming ceremony to mark Estermann’s appointment as chief of the Vatican Guards.  Estermann had scolded Tornay a number of times for a variety of indiscretions.  A letter of reprimand was placed in his file which prevented him from getting recognition at an awards ceremony slated for only a few days after Estermann’s appointment by the pope.

Frustrated and angry by this apparent ingratitude, Tornay killed Estermann and his wife before turning the gun on himself.

  • He hadn’t been thanked
  • He hadn’t been recognized
  • He hadn’t received a pat on the back
  • He hadn’t been given his due
  • So he killed

There was jealousy among the Jews when they saw Paul and Barnabas reaching out to the crowds of Gentiles that had gathered to listened and receive God's word. Other jealous crowds would threaten and even try to kill Paul. 

Down through the ages, it has been human nature to want attention and to not like it when others are receiving it. Jealousy and self-centeredness unfortunately cause us to focus inward instead of outward to the world. What changes do you need to make in your life and your attitude so you can be a mirror of Jesus's love and compassion for others? Think about it.