Monday, April 21, 2014

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.”

“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.” ― Sophocles, (Antigone written 441 BC)

Scripture text: (ACTS 2:14, 22-33)
On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.

“You who are children of Israel, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
For David says of him:

I saw the Lord ever before me,
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

My brothers, one can confidently say to you
about the patriarch David that he died and was buried,
and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him
that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld
nor did his flesh see corruption.
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
he poured forth the promise of the Holy Spirit
that he received from the Father, as you both see and hear.

Can we be the same people we were before the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus?

In today's first reading from Mass, we see Peter as anything but the fearful disciple we have seen in the past. In a loud, clear voice he stands in the midst of a crowd and proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah. This “new” Peter speaks in a different and more confident voice than the one who had huddled in terror in the locked upper room after the crucifixion. Now he says he can “speak confidently” and, quoting David, says his heart is glad and his tongue has rejoiced. He has been changed.

Have we been moved that dramatically by the events of the past week? Are we as courageous as Peter? Perhaps we are more like the women hurrying away from the tomb, half-overjoyed and half-fearful. Yes, there is good news, wonderful news … but can we allow ourselves to believe it? Can it really be true?

Jesus gives us the answer as he meets the women rushing from the tomb. His first words to them – and us – are “Peace!” and then “Do not be afraid!” Jesus wants us first to be at peace, to feel the love and redemption he offers us. Yes, it is true and now, as believers, witnesses to this miracle of love, we are asked by Jesus to “go and carry the news…”

Today we are still carried along on the joy of Holy Week and Easter Sunday liturgies. We may feel the call of Jesus in our lives asking us to spread the good news to our brothers and sisters. Today we have the courage, the energy and the joy inside. But can this last? We remember Peter’s fear and know of our own, so deeply entrenched. It doesn’t matter. We will, at times, forget, fall asleep, deny Jesus and run away fearfully, forgetting the joy. But always, always he will be there to meet us with his arms gently open, his eyes filled with love.

“Peace!” he says, greeting us with the understanding of someone who truly knows us and our faults – and loves us anyway. “Don’t be afraid.”

This, then is the most precious gift of the resurrection.

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