Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41
Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13
So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin,
rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. Acts 5
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21
I love the story from Acts. I've always been in awe of those Apostles who were so filled with the Spirit that they left this humiliating experience of being hauled up before the religious leaders and left rejoicing - seeing it as a privileged opporunity to share an intimacy with their Lord, in the dishonor of it all. I have often prayed, as I did today, that I might be drawn into a deeper love for our Lord and into a deeper freedom that I might rejoice, rather than grumble, at experiences which appear costly to me, in service of his name.
Acts 6:1-7; Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19; John 6:16-21
We belong to various communities and groups. Some of them are ‘blood’-based communities – our families. Some are networks based on choice – our friends, people who have the same interests as we have, and so on. Some are work and career oriented – class mates and work mates. Some are grounded in shared beliefs and understandings about life and the world – religious groups, churches, and ideological movements to whom we belong. All these communities face threats: threats from the outside and threats from the inside. This came to my mind when I read the two readings of today. They remind us that challenges endanger our communities.
Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14
We have been reading the Acts of the Apostles since the Easter season began. Through these readings we have been witnesses of all the healing and preaching in the name of Jesus that the apostles have been doing. We have been witnesses of the absolutely fearless joy that invaded their hearts, so much so, that “... It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4: 20 The apostles are imprisoned and leave the jail without unlocking the doors and go back to the temple to preach and heal and baptize in the name of Jesus, there is no threat from the Sanhedrin that seems to stop them, or even give them a pause. They had received the Holy Spirit and they remain open to the Spirit’s gifts to them and they cannot, not share that life in the Spirit.
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.
Prayer to St. Joseph
Patron Saint of Workers,
We ask for your blessing upon all of our efforts.
May our work each day be a blessing
Which allows us to recognize the dignity of human labor.
May we see our work as an opportunity
To build up the Kingdom of God.
With you as our model and example,
May we be instruments of the love and peace
Which the gospel calls us to share
In every aspect of our lives.
Help us in our daily labor and encourage all those
Who seek meaningful work. Amen
Acts 4:32-37; John 3:7-15
“None of them claimed anything as his own; rather everything was held in common. With power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”
When we know in poverty of spirit that everything is a gift, our hearts begin again to taste Jesus’ love alive. This love penetrates basic fears surrounding our ownership of things.
Are we anything apart from what we own and possess? In our real poverty of spirit, our nothingness, without property, homes, cars, titles, computers and brand name clothes, what are we?
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.
Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31
It is not easy to live with uncertainty and ultimately we must place our faith in someone or something to give us reason for living. To have our faith in a cause or a person shattered is a terrible experience. This was the scenario facing St. Thomas.
Perhaps Thomas’ doubt was the fruit of bitter disappointments of the past. He may have had people in his life who let him down and who betrayed his trust. He was not born with this sense of hesitation or suspicion – we can speculate that those things are acquired from bitter learned experiences. He had learned caution and wariness about who he could trust. The word of others was not enough for him- he wanted proof, not testimony. Having staked everything on Jesus, the Lord, he had much to lose if he was wrong to trust Him.
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.