Psalms 118:1, 14-15, 16-18, 19-21
"It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard."
Today's readings cause me to reflect on the depth of faith we are called to exhibit, and our need to express that faith. It also causes me to recall a favorite saying of my mother - "Actions speak louder than words."
In the excerpt from Acts, we see Peter and John in a conflict with their Jewish brethren over the significance of Jesus. There is incontrovertible evidence that a man crippled since birth has been cured through the intercession of Jesus. Yet for the Jewish officials to acknowledge this fact would undermine their own authority. So they enjoin Peter and John not to speak to anyone in the name of Jesus. Their reply - "It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard."
Why do they feel compelled? Do they recall being rebuked by Jesus for their unbelief of Mary Magdalene, and other eyewitnesses, who had contact with Jesus after His resurrection? When they shared their experiences, the witnesses were not believed. Even though His followers had spent years learning from Him and seeing the truth of His message, even though He had given them ample forewarning of what was to come, they could not believe the words of their trusted companions that Jesus had risen. Only when Jesus Himself appeared to them could they begin to accept His resurrection. Only when they were filled with the Spirit did they feel the compulsion to speak out.
Is Jesus speaking to us across the years as well as to His disciples, rebuking us because we do not believe the words of those "who saw him after he had been raised?" Of course He is. He also recognizes that it is much harder for us because of the distance of time and our need to rely on the words of others. But He still calls us to believe.
Does Jesus expect that it be impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard? Yes, but ask yourself what it is that you have seen and heard. We are not eyewitnesses to the events of 2000 years ago, but eyewitnesses to today's reality. And that reality is that Jesus lives among us, in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the oppressed. And so it should be impossible for us not to speak out about what we see and hear. It should be impossible for us not to ease the pain of those in whom Christ lives, just as Peter and John felt compelled to call on Jesus to help the crippled man. We "speak" when we act. If we believe the words of those "who saw him after he had been raised," then it will be impossible for us not to speak.
And so today I pray that my belief in the resurrection can be strengthened
so that I may speak about what I have seen.
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