Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter, April 14
Do We Have the Courage to Openly Live and Profess the Faith in Which We Believe, and Not Be Ashamed of Who We Are As a Christian People?
We read in today’s Gospel a verse which has become a favorite amongst many Christians – “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
In all the relationships which exist in God’s creation, next only to the relationship which exists between each of the Divine Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity, and next only to the relationship which the Blessed Trinity has for our Blessed Mother, none is more profound, none is more selfless than the very nature of the Love which God has for each of us!
In today’s Gospel Reading, Jesus continues His discourse with Nicodemus, teaching him the famous phrase which we have heard so many times and which we oftentimes see posted on signs at different sporting and social events with the phrase “John 3:16” – “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son…”
Jesus is teaching both Nicodemus and us that our Lord’s purpose for coming into the world was to be the Source of our salvation.
But His coming also provokes judgment, for some condemn themselves by making a willful choice to turn from the Light of Christ and to remain in the darkness which belongs to the prince of this world. We see this explanation in His words, “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.”
And we see this in the jealousy on the part of the religious authorities of Jesus’ day. The Sanhedrin, in today’s First Reading, could not bear the fact that the teachings of the Apostles were gaining in popularity, in defiance of the Sanhedrin’s previous order given to them to abandon their prophetic role of preaching in the Name of Jesus.
As a result, they have the Apostles arrested. But the Light of God’s Truth will not be contained. As a result, an angel from God comes and releases them and says, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.”
The real significance of their miraculous release, however, would be understood only by people of faith, not by unbelievers; since the Sanhedrin already judged the Twelve (for Matthias had already been chosen to replace Judas) to be inauthentic prophets. In other words, the Jewish elders would undoubtedly disregard any and all reports of the miracles they were performing in the Name of Jesus, the Christ.
When the Twelve immediately resumed public teaching, we will find in tomorrow’s Reading that there will be many in the Sanhedrin who, in their hostility and extreme anger, will be determined to invoke upon them the penalty of death.
In today’s Reading of the Responsorial Psalm, we can actually visualize the Apostles, after having been miraculously released from prison, singing this psalm of trust in God’s Loving Providence, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”
An underlying theme we find coursing throughout today’s Readings is “courage” – courage in proclaiming God’s Truth, as we see the Apostles doing in our First Reading. They knew that by preaching in Jesus’ Name inside the Temple area, they were placing their very lives in extreme danger, for this was the Pharisees’ own “backyard”, so to speak. And remember, it was the Pharisees who forced Pilate’s hand in order to have Jesus crucified.
In our Gospel Reading for today, Jesus is telling us that it does take courage, a “leap of faith” if you will, to live in the Light for others to see, even if it means ridicule or persecution. And we are reminded of the words He once spoke to the multitude who followed him up on the Mount concerning those who live a life of right conduct, “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
How we choose to live our life, how we choose to give witness to the Eternal Love which we should all embrace – attests to the faith we hold deep within our hearts, “But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”
In today’s secular world, spiritual life is oftentimes looked down upon, even ridiculed, by those whose lives are continuously lived in darkness. With peer pressure constantly pressing in on our youth today, with the demands placed upon us at the workplace, with many of today’s legislators and judges turning their backs on the Christian principles of moral and ethical conduct, and with an ever increasing number of people embracing a relativistic way of thinking and living (which was covered in detail in yesterday’s meditation), it is not easy for some people to feel comfortable in giving witness to their Christian faith.
For those of us who are Catholic, how many of us have difficulty openly making the Sign of the Cross before praying Grace when eating out at a restaurant? Be honest with yourselves about this! And how many of us are uncomfortable asking our co-workers, or even family or friends for that matter, to refrain from blaspheming, using our Lords Most Holy Name as some sort of a soccer ball to be kicked about at their every whim and pleasure?
Being Christian in a church setting is easy. Living a Christian way of life out in the real world, where darkness has the upper hand, is much more difficult – and this is why I am talking about courage today – the fortitude, the strength to openly profess the faith in which we believe and not to be ashamed of it.
I am not saying that we have to be “Bible thumpers” to our friends and relatives. That is the furthest thing from my mind. But not being afraid to truly live as a Christian people IS what our Lord is asking from each of us. He knows our limitations, but He is asking us to take that “leap of faith” and trust in Him, by living our lives in His Light for others to see.
Having the courage to give witness to what we profess in the Nicene Creed we pray in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass endears us to our Lord.
Another word for courage is fortitude, and our Catechism teaches us that fortitude is one of the four cardinal moral virtues “…which ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good.” And that it is also one of the “seven gifts of the Holy Spirit” which we receive in the Sacrament of Confirmation.
That “leap of faith” that I was talking about? – it is trusting in the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our daily lives. Jesus never promised that our journey through life would be without some bumps in the road. But He did promise us that we will never be left alone, that He will never abandon us, and that He would always send us His Spirit to strengthen and guide us, as we give witness to the faith which you and I profess and hold most dear.
And it is God’s Spirit which guides my mind and my heart in writing these meditations over the past ten + years and evangelize His Truth to each of you every day.
At the end of every Mass, the deacon’s words of dismissal are, “The Mass is ended. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord,” or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” As a Christian people, let us truly live these words in our daily lives in both good times and bad, always remembering that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” for both you and me.
And let us always take strength in knowing that we have a God who will never forsake us, no matter what trials and difficulties we may face in the world! †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)
- “Then the high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, laid hands upon the apostles and put them in the public jail.” (Acts 5:17-18)
- “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.” (John 3:20)
- “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” (Acts 5:20)
- “But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” (John 3:21)
- “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10)
- “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
- “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he saves them.” (Psalm 34:8)
- “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)
- “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord…but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” (2 Timothy 1:7-8a, 8c)
- “Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power.” (Ephesians 6:10)
- “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)
Prayer for the Day
“Lord, Almighty God,Anonymous
Let everything I do this day
and throughout the remainder of my life
be inspired by You, for I long to be united with You.
“Guide me in my life of faith;
strengthen me and help me to remember
that nothing is important in life
unless it truly glorifies You in some way.
“Enlighten my heart and heal my imperfections,
so that I may become an example of Your Light
in a world filled with shadows and darkness.
“Help me to always rely on You for help,
so that I may reach towards perfection in my own life,
the perfection which unites myself to You.
“Help me to live my life of faith with humility and love,
and become the extension of You to all whom I meet,
for, only in this way, will I truly live Your Love in the world.”