The rulers, elders and scribes were astonished at the assurance shown by Peter and John, considering they were uneducated laymen; and they recognised them as associates of Jesus; but when they saw the man who had been cured standing by their side, they could find no answer. So they ordered them to stand outside while the Sanhedrin had a private discussion. ‘What are we going to do with these men?’ they asked. ‘It is obvious to everybody in Jerusalem that a miracle has been worked through them in public, and we cannot deny it. But to stop the whole thing spreading any further among the people, let us caution them never to speak to anyone in this name again.’
So they called them in and gave them a warning on no account to make statements or to teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John retorted, ‘You must judge whether in God’s eyes it is right to listen to you and not to God. We cannot promise to stop proclaiming what we have seen and heard.’ The court repeated the warnings and then released them; they could not think of any way to punish them, since all the people were giving glory to God for what had happened.
Having risen in the morning on the first day of the week, Jesus appeared first to Mary of Magdala from whom he had cast out seven devils. She then went to those who had been his companions, and who were mourning and in tears, and told them. But they did not believe her when they heard her say that he was alive and that she had seen him.
After this, he showed himself under another form to two of them as they were on their way into the country. These went back and told the others, who did not believe them either.
Lastly, he showed himself to the Eleven themselves while they were at table. He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy, because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. And he said to them, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.’
We cannot promise to stop proclaiming what we have seen and heard
Seeing is believing. Sometimes when people talk about an incident that they have witnessed, those around who are listening may dismiss it as an exaggeration. The Chinese call it “adding salt and pepper”. People don’t believe unless it comes from a credible source, or unless they have been there to witness it. Sometimes when one persists, they are shushed into silence instead.
Today’s readings show two ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, Peter and John are threatened by the priests and elders not to talk about Jesus and the miracle performed in his name, chiefly the healing of the crippled man. Peter and John speak up and say that they would not stop talking about the salvation of Christ and all that he has done. On the other hand, in the Gospel reading we see that when Mary Magdalene and the two disciples who had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus came back and told the Apostles that they had seen Jesus in person, no one believed them.
When Jesus eventually appeared to the Apostles in person he rebuked them for not believing earlier. Here were several chances for the Apostles to declare the good news that Christ had risen but they had dismissed it. So that others too may come to hear about the resurrection of Christ and believe, Jesus called on the Apostles to go out and spread the news.
It is ironic how we would believe gossip tabloids in a heartbeat but not have the faith to believe in God’s work in our lives. Are we so quick to dismiss things that happen as “fate” or “luck” or that it was written in our star signs? How many of us have faith that is strong enough to say that what we encounter, good or bad, is all part of God’s plan? How many of us pray for a miracle to happen, but when it does happen we only rejoice internally but we are afraid to share it with others in case we sound “stupid” and “ridiculous”? Why are we so reluctant to share the Good News with other people, but not the latest news in the tabloids? Is this human nature something that God is testing in us? Are we to be like the Apostles who hardened their hearts and not believe until it happens to us?
Our lives have been redeemed by Christ. We are alive because of Him. We are alive because God loved us so. Let us not shy away from that. This is Good News that is to be proclaimed. Years after scandals and celebrity divorces pass, this is one piece of News that will remain.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the faith to believe in the promise of the Good News, of the resurrection of Christ. We pray to not follow or listen to gossip, but to have the spirit of discernment fixed in our hearts, so that we will know what the truth is and what is not.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for allowing us to be recipients of the Good News of Christ. May we also spread the Word of God to those around us, effectively planting the seed in people’s hearts.