Opinion: An ultimate question of our faith rests in whether and how we remember Jesus in the condemned of our past and present.
In the small cliff-side village of Frías in northern Spain, visitors are welcomed by the aroma of steaks, chops and sausages being grilled on a bed of dead but still intertwined grapevines. The vines that once yielded rich, juicy grapes on terraced hillsides are now, even in death, attesting to their unity and usefulness. They impart a unique flavor to whatever is cooked on them and burn much more cleanly than charcoal or wood.
In our first lesson today, we have an incident that shows how the first disciples of Jesus were beginning to carry out the work of Jesus. If you think about it, you can really imagine how distressed those officials in that courtroom must have been, how upset. They thought they had killed Jesus. What's this? Now people are going out now and in his name -- that is, with his power -- acting as he did. They're continuing to do the same thing he did.
It happens to everybody at some point. You do someone a good turn, and you get in big trouble for it. Today, we hear Peter defending himself before the guardians of orthodoxy. Poor Peter is accused of healing a crippled beggar in the name of Jesus. (See the whole account in Acts 3-4.) As the story goes, Peter's responses culminate with the question of choosing whether to obey God or men, even -- or especially -- when the men claim the sanction of religious authority.
Obviously, once more as we listen to these Scripture lessons this morning, we become aware and perhaps begin to feel again somewhat of the excitement and the joy that those first disciples felt when Jesus went through death to new life. They found it very difficult to believe this, and I think sometimes we fail to experience the fullness of joy of this Easter feast because we almost take it too much for granted. "Yes, Jesus rose from the dead; let's move on." No. It's so much more important to stop and really try to experience what those first disciples experienced.
Just Catholic: "Why do you stay?" "How can you stay?" I get these questions all the time. So do you.
Soul Seeing: The weeks after we celebrate Easter remind us that the God who suffered and died for us is still present in our suffering.
"We have an advocate with the Father" (1 John 2:1). What is John telling us? That the reign of God is like a courtroom where we're lucky enough to have Jesus as the lawyer who'll get the divine judge to let us off easy? That's a rough description of one widely held understanding of this reading and a general theory of salvation. But is it the only interpretation?
Essay: No other nation imprisons its people as we do. Yet, going into jail to listen and help is an act of mercy and love.
The Peace Pulpit: "We are the presence of Jesus in the midst of the world ... That calls us to change our lives, to follow the way of Jesus."