The truth is like a lion. You don't have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself. - St. Augustine
(Scripture Text: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11)
Wishing to determine the truth about why Paul was being accused by the Jews, the commander freed him and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene. Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them. Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees, so he called out before the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the group became divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all three. A great uproar occurred, and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party stood up and sharply argued, “We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” The dispute was so serious that the commander, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst and take him into the compound. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”
How many times throughout the day do we find ourselves in positions where we do not speak our mind? How often have we remained neutral on a topic when we should have boldly claimed a side? How many times have we nodded passively along with our opinionated friends instead of speaking the truth?
In the first reading today at Mass, St. Paul is brought before the Sanhedrin. Paul acknowledges to both the Sadducees and Pharisees present and proclaims his “hope in the resurrection.” This statement immediately carved dividing lines in the Sanhedrin as the both groups began to argue. Later, God said to Paul, “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.” The Resurrection is a foundational principle in Christianity and Paul was not about to shy away from the controversy merely to avoid confrontation.
What are some fundamental areas of Christianity that we as Catholics face today in the “public square”: the sanctity of marriage, the vitality of human life. At what point do we recognize these pillars as non-negotiable truths and take a stand, despite the inevitable conflict, as Paul did.
I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”(Jn 16:33)