In the first reading (Acts 3:13-15, 17-19), as well as in the Gospel proclamation, the importance of witness is stressed. You likely know that our word martyr comes from the Greek for “witness.” When we think of martyrdom, we tend to think of those who have died for the Faith. That is fine, although it is important to make distinctions of types of martyrdom because, while we may not be asked to be killed for our beliefs, there are other types of dying that we are called to experience (see here for a fine, succinct overview).
Peter was not speaking to the members of the crowd to endear them to himself in accusing them of killing “the author of life” (just ponder that for a moment or two or a lifetime — the creator dies — willingly, purposely — at the hands of His creatures). Rather, he was speaking truth to the multitude to bring them to conversion. Also, notice that he is not vengeful but attributes their action to ignorance (a good pastoral approach, I think). What is required? Repentance. The same words that John the Baptist and Jesus used when their public ministries were introduced are among the first demands of the post-Ascension ministry of the apostles.
Now, this repentance is not a one time deal (sorry, “once saved, always saved” crowd — few tenets by self-styled Christians are more scripturally dubious than this pithy mantra). John the Evangelist tells us in the second reading (1 Jn 2:1-5a) that
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep1 Jn 2:3-4
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
This is why we must always tell God’s truth (not “my truth” or “your truth,” as if truth is subjective) in season and out of season, always with love, often assuming ignorance (it is not, properly speaking, as pejorative as we have made it out to be). (N.B.: This is a good time to review ignorance as it relates to sin, in particular the tenet that “full knowledge” is required for mortal sin.) Will there often be blow back? Well, just look around. Vitriol leading inexorably to “canceling” is widespread. But we must not be intimidated. LIfe is short, eternity is long. I find it helpful to consider what I will say to Jesus the day I meet Him when I must give an accounting of the time He allotted me in my mortality. This is why His admonition, “stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Mt 25:13), should be sobering.
In closing today’s Gospel passage (Lk 24:25-38), Jesus says to the apostles and other disciples, “You are witnesses of these things.” What things? Well, certainly Jesus’ whole public ministry as well as His closing ministry in the forty days following His Resurrection. But also, note that Jesus then “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” So, they can not only witness to His public acts, but they can also witness to His fulfillment of all that was promised in the Hebrew Scriptures (and more — He was God Himself!). What does this witnessing get them? Tradition has it that all the apostles were killed for the Name, save one, John, who, nevertheless, endured many severe trials in a long life but remained steadfast till the end.
We read that the disciples were “incredulous for joy” in seeing Jesus. Can we say the same in seeing Him in the Eucharist and in all persons we encounter, recognizing in them the image and likeness of God “who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4)? There’s that word again, “truth.” Saved by truth. Saved by Truth. Salvation only comes through Jesus, “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6) So, when someone asks, directly or indirectly, like Pontius Pilate, “What is truth?” (Jn 18:38), be sure to “[a]lways be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1 Pt 3:15), not counting the cost.
(For another great Bp Barron sermon, “harping” on the Resurrection, go here.)
Check out these short pieces: the first for a spiritual lift using imagery I have long loved; the second for another troubling issue regarding vaccines (I continue to follow this matter closely).
- The Masterpiece of the Divine Artist (I’ve likely recommended subscribing to The Catholic Thing previously, but I do so again)
- NOW bishops ask for ethical vaccines: too little, too late (Catholic Culture also happily enters my inbox from time to time)
REGARDING THE PHOTO
The photograph below comes from the St. Paul Street Evangelization website which has some fine apologetic materials and videos. I had hoped to be involved directly in the organization’s work, but the pandemic seems to have put a damper on this (at least for the time being).