06 /04, 2016. Wednesday, Week 2 of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 5:17-26
The Temple police arrest the apostles, but without violence
Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, “Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.” When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.
When the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the council and the whole body of the elders of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the temple police went there, they did not find them in the prison; so they returned and reported, “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were perplexed about them, wondering what might be going on. Then someone arrived and announced, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” Then the captain went with the temple police and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
Gospel: John 3:16-21
“For God so loved the world” the basic axiom of our faith
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
A religion of sincerity and truth
Peter and John are caught in a conflict that involves the high priest and the entire Sanhedrin besides the temple guards. The apostles are imprisoned, and God sends angels to intervene. This same struggle is echoed at universal level in John’s gospel about God’s sending his only son as the light of this world. Light and darkness clash, leading to a judgment for the world. After being freed by an angel, Peter and John are again in the temple courtyard, preaching to an enthusiastic audience. They seem to ignore their recent escape, acting as though nothing had taken place, forgetful of their deliverance by an angel. And when the police intervene, they must do so “without any show of force for fear of being stoned by the crowd.” Somehow or other, these ordinary people without any weapons except the stones on the ground, bring the police to peaceful submission,
Likewise, in the gospel Jesus seemingly asks for nothing other than sincerity, to act “in truth,” and to live in the light of his presence. The deep intuitive faith of people at large then turns out to be the stable ingredient of religion. Their matter-of-fact response, their enthusiasm, their spontaneous rallying around defenceless Peter and John, their ability to call everything and everyone by their right name, their continuing loyalty, their confidence in Jesus’ presence in their midst, their spirit of hope in the goodness of God’s creation, here is where the difference is made between success or failure in accomplishing God’s will for our salvation.
Jesus not only promotes love in our lives, but nourishes that life by his hidden presence and by the Eucharist. His presence surrounds us on every side. And yet like the sunlight, he is never really under our control. Gently the Spirit of Jesus coaxes us to grow in love and trust; he endorses a warm enthusiasm for life, trust in others, quickness to rally around whatever is good, noble and worthy of faith (Phil 4:8).
Loving the light
We can notice a stretch in the evenings by now, in the northern hemisphere that is. Most of us like the added light. We are pleased by the extra daylight every day at this time of the year. In Autumn, our heart sinks a bit when we realize that the days have begun to get shorter. Even though most of us like the light, the gospel declares that people have shown they prefer darkness to light. The evangelist is referring there not to daylight, but to the one who declares himself to be the light of the world. Our calling is to ‘come out into the light’, in the words of the gospel. Today’s gospel makes the very generous statement that all who live by the truth come out into the light. All who seek the truth are already standing in the light of Christ, even though they may not be aware of it. The gospel suggests that people of faith, those who seek to be guided by the light of Christ, will always have something very fundamental in common with all who seek the truth with sincerity of heart. [MH]