Friday of the Easter Octave, April 14, 2023
Acts 4:1-12; Ps 118:1-2, 4, 22-27a; Jn 21:1-14
By the time this is published, and you read it, I will have met with a classroom of 4th graders asking (tough) questions about their faith. It always amazes me the questions they come up with: “Who made God?,” “What can our guardian Angels do?” or, “I don’t understand what it means when Jesus will come again.” From an adult faith perspective, I could just start with, “Let’s open our Bible and the Catholic Catechism.” But with 4th graders, they would just look at me with weird expressions on their faces if I told them that. It is hard for them to comprehend a theological explanation; they just want to know. I suppose, as adults, we, too, just want to know. We do not want to go through all theological explanations of why something happened, or why Jesus said this or that. We just want to be told, and then, we take it on faith and believe.
All week long in our Mass readings, the disciples have been proclaiming the truth about Jesus. Today, the Sadducees do not what to hear it. They want a theological explanation about WHY, they just cannot take it on faith. Peter, boldly speaks again about who Jesus was. In fact, he throws it in their face. “..then all of you and all the people of Israel should know it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are saved.”
I can just picture the crowd, with their mouths open wide in shock. They could not do anything. They could not accept the truth based on faith. So they had no choice but to let Peter and the rest of the disciples go free. This just emboldened Peter and the disciples to keep preaching the truth. Think about that for a moment, this was Peter, who only a short time before denied Jesus three times, now speaks with such boldness that he does not care about his own life. The only way Peter can do this, is by being filled with the Holy Spirit and having the faith to believe what he had seen. Fast forward to the Gospel where when Peter sees Jesus, he is so excited he basically jumps into the water, clothes and all, and swims to meet Jesus on the shore. So full of joy and love that he can hardly keep himself contained.
Peter’s love and excitement for Jesus is very contagious, especially right after Easter. To see the risen Jesus had to be one of great joy for all the disciples, and it is one of great joy for us as well. Jesus did not promise the gifts of the Holy Spirit for only the disciples, He promised it to us all. And, His promise of salvation is for us all as well. In these two examples with Peter, we see an infilling of the Holy Spirit into Peter, and a full grasp of who Jesus is in the love Peter shows for Him. Like the 4th graders, I will be talking (or have) talked to, Peter and the disciples had the faith to believe in what they had seen, heard, and participated in. They did not need all the theological explanations about Jesus, they believed in faith.
How about you? Are you showing that faith of a 4th grader by showing your unashamed love for Jesus? While we do not have to speak in front of a large audience (or 4th graders!) or jump in the sea and swim toward one whom we love, we can, and should speak proudly of the one who saves us. Peter spoke it loud and clear, there is no one else through whom we are saved. It is only through Jesus and our love for Him. So, the next time you are in a crowd, or one-on-one with someone, do not be afraid to speak about our Savior. Let the Holy Spirit fill you up and share your faith and love of Jesus with those around you, even if it is 4th graders with tough questions. The Holy Spirit will guide you and your faith will shine through.