Daily Reflection
May 4th, 2000
Todd Salzman
Theology Department
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Acts 5:27-33
Psalms 34:2, 9, 17-20
John 3:31-36

Today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles presents us with quite a “contrast experience” providing a key to understanding what seems to be rather harsh words in the Gospel of John.  First, throughout the last two weeks, we have repeated references to Peter and the Apostles being all too human.  Throughout Jesus’ ministry they were continually misunderstanding who Jesus was and what true discipleship meant.  These misunderstandings reach their climax in the Garden of Gethsemane, when the Apostles abandon Jesus and, for Peter, with his three-fold denial of Jesus.  Even after the resurrection, they continue to misunderstand what has happened and fail to realize the truly Good News: Christ is risen.  In the Acts of the Apostles, we find that the Easter message has finally taken root.  Peter and the Apostles are transformed in their hearts.  They comprehend what has happened through the death and resurrection of Jesus and are emboldened through the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim to the Council and High Priest that “we must obey God rather than men,” and preach the Gospel, even in the face of persecution and death.  The power of Easter is made manifest through the voice of Peter and the Apostles who are radically transformed through their experiences.  They are willing to face suffering, persecution and even death so profoundly have these events shaped their vision and understanding.

This “contrast experience,” between the all too human Apostles before the Easter event and the post-resurrection accounts where the “Good News” has taken root, puts the reading from John’s Gospel into perspective.  “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.”  To whom does God’s wrath belong?  Does it belong to the Apostles prior to their eyes being opened?  Does it belong to the High Priest and Council?  Does it belong to me when I struggle with being “all to human” just like the Apostles but, in spite of a lack of belief, understanding, and faith at times, still strive to allow the Holy Spirit to work in my life? 

I find great hope and inspiration in the lives of the Apostles and their “all to humanness.”  In spite of, or perhaps because of, this humanness the Apostles continually strive to understand.  Their openness to the Holy Spirit working in their lives which gradually transforms their hearts, gives them the courage to stand before the Council and profess their faith, even with the threat of death.  The Holy Spirit is constantly at work in and through us, our relationships, and our day-to-day experiences that help to transform our vision, perception and understanding.  I pray that this Easter Season brings with it the courage shown by the Apostles to face life’s difficulties and challenges with profound trust in God’s love for us and an awareness of the constant presence of the Holy Spirit in all that we do, all that we are, even when we do not always understand. 

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