Scripture Reading for Today: Acts 5:17-26 (read it here)
Before the Ascension, Jesus tells his disciples that they will be his witnesses, beginning in Jerusalem; and now we see that the apostolic witness in Jerusalem that began at Pentecost continues.
The apostles are warned by Jewish officials to cease preaching Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, but they clearly indicate that they could not and would not stop their activity. The result of that refusal lands them in the public jail.
In the Book of Acts, Luke wants to show that God is fully behind the activity of the apostles; therefore, remaining in jail is not an option. During the night, an angel of the Lord frees them with the mandate that they should return to the Temple area and continue their preaching and teaching about the resurrection.
Without giving any thought to their safety or attempting to flee the area where they had been arrested, the apostles do exactly as the angel of the Lord instructed them.
When the high priest and the other officials gather to deal with the stubborn apostles, they are shocked to discover that the prisoners are gone. There are no signs of struggle or escape. Everything in the jail is intact; the apostles are simply not there. No rational explanation accounts for their disappearance.
Luke, the author of Acts, makes it clear that God is directing these events, and there is no prison strong enough to prohibit God’s will from being accomplished. The high priest and court officers might not be believers in Jesus, but they are aware that something extraordinary is going on.
The Jewish officials are more than surprised to discover that the apostles had returned to the Temple area to resume their teaching. Without force or violence, the captain and court officers bring in the apostles for questioning.
It is not that the officials believe anything special about the apostles, but they know their message has become popular. They fear that the reaction of the people will turn violently against them.
Here we see vividly displayed the great characteristics of those early witnesses of God. They are people of courage. To obey that command to go straight back and preach in the Temple is an act of almost reckless audacity. And yet they go.
They are people of principle. And their guiding principle is that in all circumstances obedience to God must come first. They never ask, “Is this course of action safe?” They ask, “Is this what God wants me to do?”
They have a clear idea of their function. They know that they are witnesses for Christ. A witness is essentially a person who speaks from first-hand knowledge. He knows from personal experience that what he says is true; and it is impossible to stop a person like that because it is impossible to stop the truth.
The bread and wine we receive at the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ—food and strength for our life as his witnesses in the world.
Let us consider it an honor to suffer for the Lord.
Motivated by Mary, let us not remain silent about our faith, because indifference is the greatest of sins.
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Que la palabra de Cristo habite y se sienta a gusto en ustedes (Col. 3:16)
Let us make this a blessed day.
Keep Jesus in your mind and heart and share him with all you meet.
Fr. Michael Brizio, IMC
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