Scripture Reading for Today: Acts 5:27-33 (read it here)
After the apostles are arrested for a second time following their miraculous release from custody, they are brought again before the Sanhedrin—the supreme Jewish Council.
Again, Peter and the other apostles are reprimanded for their teaching in the name of Jesus. This time the Council accuses them of wanting to bring the blood of Jesus upon them—that is, the Council fears the apostles are holding them responsible for Jesus’ death.
The High Priest seems to see the purpose of the apostles’ teaching as arousing hostility against the Council for their treatment of Jesus.
Rather than being silenced, Peter—acting as the spokesman for the apostles—admits that the apostles were doing what they were told not to do; and replies that their motive for teaching is not hostility to the Council, but obedience to God.
In other words, the apostles are convinced that they have a mission to carry out, and they intend to do that, no matter how much the religious authorities object.
And, Peter restates to their faces the core of the apostolic teaching. God raised Jesus from the dead after they (that is, those same people who now stand in front of him) killed him by hanging him on a tree. But God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior offering the Holy Spirit and forgiveness of sins to those who repent.
Peter goes on to proclaim that this Jesus whom the Council has rejected, brings salvation. Jesus is “leader” in the sense that he is the author and originator of salvation. The kind of salvation meant is spelled out; it is not political but involves repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
At this point in the narrative, the focus is still on Israel; the Gentile mission will come later. He further insists that the apostles are witnesses of these things. The Holy Spirit has been given to those who obey God; thus, it is better to obey God than men.
This reply so infuriates the Council that they want to execute the apostles. Their anger is probably aroused by the claim that they are acting in opposition to God. The Council thought they were serving God by attempting to stop the activities of Jesus, and now his apostles.
In other words, the restatement of the apostles’ message about Jesus’ death and resurrection leads the Council members not to repentance and a fundamental change of heart, but to an even deeper rage against the apostles.
Also note that for most of Christianity’s first 300 years, it was an illegal religion in the Roman Empire. Depending on who was emperor or who was in charge locally, Christianity experienced waves of persecution.
In the celebration of the Eucharist, we also profess Christ’s death and resurrection; and we commit ourselves to be his witnesses in the world.
Let us live this day as an opportunity for repentance and growth in Christ.
Sustained by Mary, let us also keep “talking loudly about Christ” with our joy and deeds of love and forgiveness.
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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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