After just a few minutes of reflection on today's readings, I
realized that each of them put emphasis on ideas that could be expressed
with words beginning with the letter P -- words like "persecution" and "perseverance."
Quite quickly a flood of other "P" words came to mind: patience, and prayer
and praise, proclamation and possession and petition. Even in the phrase
from Acts, "crippled people," the letter stands out.
And all of these words are as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago.
Around the world there are those who are persecuted as the early Christians
were persecuted, because of their race, their religion, their ethnicity,
their ideas or poverty. Our patience is tested by intractable wars,
and by violence in our cities and towns, by sickness and natural disaster.
On a positive note, the glorious colors, smells and sounds of spring are
prompting our praise of the Creator of all the natural wonders. Whether
we suffer or celebrate, we have reasons for prayer.
But the P word related to today's reading that strikes me most right now
is "promise." In the Gospel Jesus promises us eternal life. Now
all of us make promises. The insincere, whether out of simple greed
or lust or egregious malevolence, may make promises they do not intend to
keep. Most of us try to keep our promises, aware, as in the famous
words of Robert Frost's poem, that we "have miles to go" before we sleep.
But so often even the best of us do not live up to our promises, breaking
them because of forgetfulness, or lack of time or energy, or unexpected and
justifiable changes in our priorities. Whether parents or children,
bosses or employees, teachers or students, helpers or those being helped,
so often we do not keep our word.
If we truly believe, however, in the perfect goodness of Jesus Christ; if
we proceed from that starting point of our Faith that is the divinity of
Christ and the infinite love that is God, we may surely find that the essence
of today's readings is the marvelous promise by Jesus the Redeemer. He offers
eternal life, and He will not withdraw the offer. As did those persecuted
twenty centuries ago, we together acknowledge one who is not only a model
but a promise-maker. He who never sinned will never break his word.
This spring, in the month of Easter, we know he will keep his promise.