Reflections

Thursday in the 2nd Week of Easter, April 15, 2021

WITNESSING TO THE RISEN CHRIST
Introduction
“God has put his Word into the mouth of people in order that it may be communicated to others. When the Word strikes one person, he or she speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find his living Word, in the witness of a brother or sister, in the mouth of his people. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him or her.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together) The core of our faith is that we owe a new life to Jesus, in whom we are reborn. The Spirit, whom he gives us without measure, prompts us to bear witness to Jesus and to his new life in us.
 
Opening Prayer
Lord, our God,
your Son Jesus Christ, came from you
and bore witness to the things
he had heard and seen.
He could not but bear witness to you.
Give us the Spirit of your Son, we pray you,
to speak your word and to live it,
that we may show Christ, your living Word,
to those who have not seen him.
We ask you this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
1 Reading: ACTS 5:27-33
When the court officers had brought the Apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders did we not, to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the Apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and saviour to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this, they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.
 
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 34:2 AND 9, 17-18, 19-20
R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor. or: Alleluia.
 
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him. R.
 
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them. R.
 
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him. R.
 
Alleluia: JOHN 20:29
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel: JOHN 3:31-36
At that time, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.”
 
Commentary
Note Peter’s bold and emphatic statement before the Council: “Better for us to obey God rather than any human authority!” Obedience to God is the better option not just for Peter but for the whole world. But how tempting it is to serve Caesar and not God! Aligning with Caesar seems to provide immediate gratification for our peripheral needs and a fleeting sense of security whereas serving God seems to reduce us to a minority often afflicted with much suffering. But as Peter and other apostles knew very well, such an experience can be fleeting and deceptive, and the reverse of it is the lasting reality. Yet it takes much grace from above to swim against the worldly tide and choose to obey God rather than any human authority. Only those who align themselves with the One who comes from above and gives the Spirit without measure can do it consistently.
 
Intercessions
– That Christians may be ready to obey God more and to be led by his Spirit than to do what people want us to do, we pray:
– That our Christian communities may be inspired by the Holy Spirit to live the risen life of Christ consistently, we pray:
– That we may be more aware that eternal life is already in us, when even now, we believe that Christ is already raising us up to a deeper, richer life, we pray:
 
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord, our God,
it is not comfortable to be a witness
for it demands that like Jesus, your Son,
we live by the truth
and be ready to meet opposition.
Give us the Spirit of strength of your Son,
nourish us with his body and blood,
and when we fail in our mission,
let there be enough love found,
at least in our communities,
to speak of the love and the truth
which Christ brought us,
your Son and our Lord for ever. Amen!
 
Prayer after Communion
Lord, our God,
we have listened to your Son,
the living Word that you speak to us,
and we have shared his table.
By the power of the Spirit alive in us,
may we in turn speak
to one another and to the world
your liberating word.
May we possess this Word most deeply
when we have given it to others.
We ask you this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
Blessing
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” Yes, we believe in Jesus, but we believe with an active faith, a faith that translates our belief into action, into life. That is a deep form of witnessing to Christ. May God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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