Apr 6, 2016

Why did you do this?

Last evening, in our discussion with several of the newly baptized from the Easter Vigil, we heard various accounts of acceptance and questioning.  So often the folks who feel called to explore the Catholic faith and seek baptism if that is necessary, relate stories from family and friends.  We often hear: "I had so much support.  People who I work with were excited and supportive.  I received so many cards and hugs of welcome, etec."

On the other hand, the opposite is also real.  "No one in my family understands why I became a Catholic. My brother, sister, neighbors never came to the Easter Vigil.  They think this is just 'my thing.'" And similar comments.

Neither is surprising in a way and it was not unheard of from those in the early Church, and the same over the centuries.  "Why would you become a Catholic?"  or "We are so happy you found the Lord in the Church" has resonated down through the centuries towards anyone who has embraced the faith.

Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles 5: 17-26 relates a similar reaction.  The un named Apostles have been preaching the good news of Christ in the Temple area and the jealous authorities have them arrested.  Two reactions to the same message: the admiration of the people and the envy of authorities.

So, they are arrested and put in prison.  But, God intervenes, sends an angel to release them, and sends them back to continue the message.  The next morning the jail is found empty and the Apostles are discovered back at it in the temple area.

There is no doubt that the early Church experienced great signs and wonders in order that the Christian faith would not be snuffed out nor the message diminished.  But, it is the courage of the Apostles we admire.

As you read the scripture below, it may be good to ask that if, in the face of opposition, would you have the same courage of your convictions to keep going? Would I be so convinced of what I profess each Sunday and have been formed by that I would have the boldness to publicly stand up for what I believe?  Or, does fear of embarrassment, the criticism of others, a personal ignorance of the Church's teaching hold me back?

Wherever we may find ourselves in this Easter season, it would be good to pray for the gift of both courage and humility.  This Gospel is stronger than any criticism we may receive.  Yet, we need to know our faith and not be content with the "same old, same old."  In light of what happened to the Apostles, could you go back to the Temple to preach or would you say, "That's it.  I'm not going to risk it again."

In the end, the choice is ours but God will send us what we need if we remain close to him.

Acts 5: 17-26

The high priest rose up and all his companions,
that is, the party of the Sadducees,
and, filled with jealousy,
laid hands upon the Apostles and put them in the public jail.
But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison,
led them out, and said,
“Go and take your place in the temple area,
and tell the people everything about this life.”
When they heard this,
they went to the temple early in the morning and taught.
When the high priest and his companions arrived,
they convened the Sanhedrin,
the full senate of the children of Israel,
and sent to the jail to have them brought in.
But the court officers who went did not find them in the prison,
so they came back and reported,
“We found the jail securely locked
and the guards stationed outside the doors,
but when we opened them, we found no one inside.”
When the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report, 
they were at a loss about them,
as to what this would come to.
Then someone came in and reported to them,
“The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area
and are teaching the people.” 
Then the captain and the court officers went and brought them,
but without force,

because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.