Saturday, April 18, 2009

Go Out Into The Whole World, And Proclaim The Good News!

In today’s gospel, we read that the Eleven have heard the testimony of Mary Magdalene, and that of the two disciples who saw Jesus on the road to Emmaus and shared a meal of fish and bread with him. But the Eleven, gathered in the Upper Room for fear of the Jews, do not accept the word of any one of the three witnesses.

In today’s first reading, we see Peter and John speaking with confidence to the Sanhedrin (the priests, elders and scribes) as the Council investigates the healing of the crippled man. But, rather than put faith in the testimony of the apostles, and believe in the healing power of Christ within them, they began to plot against these two, and all of the disciples of Jesus.

Both of these accounts hinge on the mission of witness. In the gospel, Jesus asks to go out and bear witness to the world of his message. In Acts, the Sanhedrin, even though they recognize the authenticity of the healing, seek to silence Peter and John.

Jesus does not rebuke his disciples for being ineffectual witnesses; he invites them to be open to the Spirit who is yet to come – and the readings from Acts reveal how much more effective they are after Pentecost. Now, it is the hearers who are rebuked for not paying heed to the good news of salvation.

There is a third element to this liturgy of the word, one that is involved with our own lives. Like the Eleven, and the disciples we have a mission of witness to our world. Like them, we start out weak and inept, even sinful. Like them, we can be transformed into effective witnesses to the power of resurrection. If you have not been given the gift of eloquence, don’t be concerned. Saint Ignatius Loyola reminds us: Love is demonstrated more clearly in action than in words. We all have the gift of good example. And for some, the repentance of Peter is a more eloquent example than the eloquence of John.

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