Acts 5:27-33; John 3:31-36
“We must obey God rather than men.”
Acts of the Apostles
In Luke’s version of the Passion the disciples demonstrate what ordinary people they were. During the Last Supper, they argued about who is the greatest. Then when Jesus told Peter that he would deny him, Peter says no way. He’d risk prison and even death before that – and we all know how that one comes out.
Then during the agony in the garden, the disciples keep falling asleep and Jesus has to wake them up to try to get them to pray. The apostles aren’t highly visible during the crucifixion either, unlike the women whom Luke mentions several times.Fast forward to today’s reading from Acts and juxtapose it against Luke’s account of the Passion and you get a sense of the amazing impact of the Resurrection in the lives of these men – and by extension the potential for transformation of our lives.
"Vita Consecrata" 25 Years Later
The Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CIVCSVA), Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, sent a message to all consecrated men and women on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata of St. John Paul II.
Acts 5:17-26; John 3:16-21
Today’s readings present a challenge for us: what will we do with the light we have?
In the first reading, the Apostles had an encounter with an angel of the Lord, who opened the doors of the prison, led them outside, and then said, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” They did this, teaching and sharing with the people in fulfillment of this broad mandate, even after being jailed.
Acts 4:32-37; John 3:7-15
…see the kingdom
The gospel of John was written about 60 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. Unlike the other three gospels, it was written as a testimony to Jesus’s divinity. Chapter 1: “He (Jesus) was in the beginning with God”. “with God” speaks to the preexisting relationship between God and Jesus. Jesus’ divinity. Signs, symbols of light and darkness, life and death, spirit and wind, seeing and rebirth are testimonial themes to Jesus’ divinity and relationship with God. The gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke speak of Jesus’s journeys, parables, and healings. They testify to Jesus’s humanity. These gospels are a call to discipleship. John’s gospel is an invitation to be in relationship, in communion with Jesus’s Father, with God, just as Jesus is in relationship with his Father.
Acts 4:23-31; John 3:1-8
In the gospel story there are some people who are mentioned very briefly and about whom we would like to know much more than what the gospel tells us. For me, one such person is Nicodemus, a central figure in today's gospel reading. Nicodemus is mentioned only in the gospel of St. John. He refers to Nicodemus on three occasions, and all three are very brief. We don't know much about Nicodemus, but we do know a few things. We know that he had a Greek name, Nicodemus, but we don't know what his Hebrew name was. St. John tells us that Nicodemus was a pharisee. He was also probably a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of Israel. So Nicodemus was a man of power and influence in Jerusalem.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, «Peace be with you.» When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name. Jn 20:19-31
Acts 4:13-21; Mark 16:9-15.
In today's gospel reading the Eleven, the chosen inner circle, refuse to believe both Mary Magdalene and the two walking out in the country, and Jesus is not at all happy about their unbelief: theirs is not a simple and passive lack of faith but an outright denial and refusal of the witnesses he sends them. What they are doing is keeping Jesus in the tomb.
Why didn’t the apostles immediately recognize the Lord when he greeted them at the Sea of Tiberias? John gives us a clue. He states that Peter decided to return to his home district of Galilee, very likely so he could resume his fishing career. Peter was discouraged and didn’t know what to do after the tragedy of Jesus’ death! He went back to his previous career out of despair and uncertainty. The other apostles followed him back to Galilee. When was the last time Peter was commanded to let down his net after a futile night of fishing? It was at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee when the Lord dramatically approached Peter in his fishing boat after a futile night of fishing and commanded him to lower his nets (see Luke 5:4-11). After the miraculous catch, Jesus told Peter that he would be ‘catching people” for the kingdom of God. Now Jesus repeats the same miracle. John, the beloved disciple, is the first to recognize the Lord. Peter impulsively leaps from the boat and runs to the Lord. Do you run to the Lord when you meet setbacks, disappointments, or trials? The Lord is ever ready to renew us in faith and to give us fresh hope in his promises.
I believe …
Rome, Easter 2021
In his Easter message, the Risen Lord greets us with the words Peace be with you! Christ on the Cross - the paschal Lamb - brings to a tired world the gift of new life: redemption! Peace and joy are the fruit of the paschal journey of Christ, who "himself, in his body, bore our sins on the tree of the Cross" (1 Peter 2:24).