02May 02 May, 2019. Thursday, 2nd Week of Easter

Thursday of Week 2 of Easter

1st Reading: Acts 5:27-33

What Peter and the apostles told the Jewish council

When they had brought Peter and the others, they put them standing 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.

Responsorial: Psalm 33: 2, 9, 17-20

Response: The Lord hears the cry of the poor

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
they are happy who seek refuge in him. (R./)

The Lord turns his eyes to the just
and his ears to their appeal.
They call and the Lord hears
and rescues them in all their distress. (R./)

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed he will save.
Many are the trials of the righteous
but from them all the Lord will rescue them. (R./)

Gospel: John 3:31-36

The Father loves the Son and has put all things in his hands

[Jesus said to Nicodemus]…

“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 nobody 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.”


Speaking the truth with love

“We must obey God rather than any human authority.” How can we distinguish fortitude from stubbornness, courage from love of confrontation? Is there any way to be sure that our convictions are from God as principles to fight and die for? Is our desire to resist authority a prophetic protest, or might it be just from our own stubborn pride? Revelations from above must be quite rare, so how can we tell if God is really prompting our indignation? To follow Jesus and speak in his name presumes that we are ready to walk the way of the cross with him, radically. We cannot forget that Jesus was nailed to a tree, the most public and painful of deaths, in defence of his convictions.

Today’s text from Acts offers a guideline about really following Jesus: “We testify and so does the Holy Spirit,” said Peter in the name of the apostles. We regularly invite the Holy Spirit through personal prayer to guide our hearts. We can also consult the Holy Spirit by checking out our ideas with an honest mentor. It is good to have someone who will help us discern the truth, on request. Prayer and spiritual guidance can help us grow beyond our own obsessions and our comfort zones.

Another test of validity is suggested by Peter’s reference to “the God of our ancestors”. When deciding an important matter, do I seek guidance in the Bible and test my views in light of the church’s faith? We need a listening spirit, to have a valid, integrated spirituality. If we just pick and choose options that suit ourselves, we may be just reinforcing our own oddities. We must respect our origins, so that our present choices can be a flowering of the seed that was planted in the past. Then our word, like Jesus’ own, will witness to what we have seen and heard.

Increasing and decreasing

John the Baptist acknowledges Jesus as the One who comes from Above. John did not claim authority for himself. He knows the uniqueness of Jesus, and so, “he must increase, but I must decrease.”

We can appreciate the specialness of Jesus, without fully understanding his blending of humanity and divinity. The more we come to understand, the more we know that there are further unknowns. The closer we come to him, the more we realize that our love for him could be deeper and more consistent. We can make our own the Baptist’s words, “he must increase; I must decrease.” As he increases in us, we don’t cease to be ourselves. Rather, the more he lives in us, the more we become our true selves, our Christ-selves, the persons God is calling us to be.


Saint Athanasius, bishop and doctor of the Church

Athanasius (298-373) was bishop of Alexandria for 45 years (328-373), of which 17 were spent in exile. He is admired as a theologian and church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism.

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