19Apr April 19th. Thursday of 2nd Week of Easter

Acts 5:27ff. Peter’s outspoken witness before the Jewish council.

John 3:31ff. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands.

Courage to Risk

It can be hard to distinguish internal strength from a stubborn desire to have our own way. How can we know if our convictions are from God and so must be obeyed at all costs, so that we can set our face against established authority on the basis that it is better to obey God than men? Very few people have had immediate revelations from God; so how can we know if our convictions really are from God?

A difficult aspect of following Jesus lies in the call to humility. We all admire this virtue in others, yet we hardly know when to be humble and when to assert ourselves. A false humility fears to do anything out of the ordinary, lest it be based on pride or self-assertion. Refusing to take on the responsibility to protest, a falsely-humble person can easily escape the judgment of others. Yet in some genuine sense, humble we must be if we are to follow Jesus. A norm for deciding whether our humility is real is whether we truly try to submit our decisions to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit becomes vibrant in our hearts through prayer, day by day. We also hear the testimony of the Holy Spirit by checking out our responses with the Holy Scriptures, and with good advisors. We all need someone from whom we hear the honest, plain truth. Prayer and spiritual guidance should not only bring us peace but also make demands upon us to take risks for a good cause, and so develope beyond our natural narrowness.

First Reading: Acts 5:27-33

When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.

Gospel: John 3:31-36

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.