Thursday, May 1, 2014

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it. ~ Malcolm X

Scripture Text: (ACTS 5:27-33)
When the court officers had brought the Apostles in
and made them stand before the Sanhedrin,
the high priest questioned them,
“We gave you strict orders did we not,
to stop teaching in that name.
Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching
and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
But Peter and the Apostles said in reply,
“We must obey God rather than men.
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus,
though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior
to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.
We are witnesses of these things,
as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this,
they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.

Imagine being a defendant in court, having been arrested for some act of civil disobedience. You know you are guilty, and you don’t deny it. The judge, being lenient, tells you, “If you promise never to do this again, I will let you go with a warning.” But all you can say is, “Sorry, I can’t do that.”

That would take a lot of conviction, wouldn’t it? You would need to be very sure of what you were doing to openly defy a judge like that. This is exactly what Peter and the apostles did in today’s first reading at Mass. How did they know that openly defying the Sanhedrin was the right thing to do? And how did they find the courage to do it?

Peter gives us the answer: “We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32).

The apostles knew what they had seen: Jesus of Nazareth, risen from the dead. What’s more, they experienced the Holy Spirit’s power convincing them that Jesus was the Son of God and Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. So despite the pressure exerted on them by the Sanhedrin, they couldn’t deny or keep quiet about all they had seen and experienced.

What about you? What have you “seen” and experienced? After all, you have the same Holy Spirit who filled the apostles. Has that Spirit brought Christ to life in your heart? Have you felt Jesus’ love or mercy? Have you had the experience of joy and confidence that comes as the Spirit moves in you?

Don’t dismiss these questions as unrealistic or “super-spiritual”! Millions of people have experienced these blessings over the past two thousand years. Why shouldn’t you? And if you’ve experienced the Spirit like this in the past, why not ask for more today? Jesus gave us the Spirit so that we could continue to grow and deepen our spiritual lives, so why would he give us only a small portion of his grace?

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