|Peter healing the cripple|
The readings following Easter tell the story of the disciples after the resurrection as they build up the community of believers. While we have not yet celebrated Pentecost in the Church, the readings tell of the influence of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles as they venture out of the Upper Room empowered by the Holy Spirit. There is a boldness in their speech. They do not hold back in speaking the truth which Christ proclaimed. Christ alone took our sins upon Him and through His death and resurrection, salvation is offered to all who believe. In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter proclaims to the crowd that there is "no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Peter makes it clear to those listening: this same Jesus they crucified, this same Jesus they chose to ignore, this same Jesus who continues to work miracles through the Apostles and disciples, this same Jesus also brought about their salvation.
Do you ever wonder how the people of the times must have felt? What was their reaction after hearing the man they stood by and allowed to be crucified rose from the dead? Do you think they felt any remorse? Do you think they wondered about their own salvation after knowing the one foretold of in the Scripture, the Messiah who came to save them, was put to death and they did nothing to stop it? Adding to that, what was their reaction when they saw Jesus' followers filled with an energy, joy, and zeal, working miracles in Jesus' name following their internment in the Upper Room? Do you think they every wondered how they could have 'missed the boat'?
I sometimes think about that as I look at today's world. The words of Scripture are as alive today as they were over 2000 years ago. The same Spirit lives in those who have been baptized today as in those who experienced the first Pentecost. If this is true--why doesn't the world recognize the Savior? Why aren't we all living in harmony, unity, and peace? The answer is fairly obvious, sad to say. It's because we don't 'see' Jesus. We are blinded to His presence, just as so many were back in the times following the resurrection.
Jesus is alive in our midst if we are open to seeing Him. There are miracles if we look for them. There are people of faith all around us living heroic lives, witnesses of Christ's love. Their joy and zeal are contagious and they are magnets for those searching for happiness and truth.
I work in the ministry of evangelization. I hear the stories of people whose lives have been transformed by an overpowering experience of the Holy Spirit and a profound meeting with Jesus Christ. Their joy in indescribable--and when you speak to them, you cannot help but 'catch' it too! When you are in a room full of people of faith--watch out--the energy level soars through the roof and there is nothing that can contain their fervor!
Imagine what our families, Churches, and nation would look like if we all recognized Christ in our midst; if we lived His love; if we forgave as He did, if we lived by His Truth, if we were fully evangelized? These are not imaginings of a dreamer, but realities which can be realized if we place our trust in Jesus, respond to the call of the Holy Spirit, and humbly say our 'yes' to God.
Let us go forth, to love, serve, and proclaim the Lord!