Class: 
Cycle C: Third Sunday of Easter

 

 

THE “JESUS CASE”

 

 

After the crucifixion of Jesus, the Jewish and the Roman authorities in Jerusalem could very well have considered the “Jesus case” as a matter settled once and for all. The struggle had been hard and the end of the plot a delicate matter to tackle, because no one could foresee the reactions of the crowds. Yet everything had gone well, in the eyes of the authorities who had got rid of one more intruder. As for his disciples, they had been struck in the heart, because their Master and friend had been executed. They were now completely disappointed, broken and scattered.

 

I-   “We cannot but speak”

 

However, as the First Reading taken from the Acts of the Apostles reminded us today, the authorities began to worry again when they realized that these same disciples had reappeared in the city. They gathered in the Temple to pray, and the people were more and more numerous to join them every day. The crowds even marvelled at some miraculous cures that the apostles had performed by invoking the name of Jesus. So, it was urgent to take action. The High Priest ordered his soldiers to arrest them and throw them into jail.

 

The authorities became much more worried when the cells of the jail in which the apostles had been imprisoned were found empty. Had the guardians been bribed? Or was that another miracle? All were very much puzzled when suddenly someone came and informed them: “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the Temple and teaching the people.” Then the captain of the Temple left with his officers to go and arrest them once again and take them before the tribunal.

 

Thus, in spite of interdictions and threats, Simon Peter, the fisherman from Galilee, who had already denied his Master three times, was starting to preach, daring to say publicly that Jesus was alive and that he was truly the Messiah and Saviour promised to Israel. It was to pretend at the same time that those who had condemned him to death had shed not only the blood of an innocent man, but also the blood of the Holy One of God.

 

Once again they came before the Sanhedrin who said to them: “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name. This man was duly tried and sentenced to death. Do you pretend to stand against this judgment and accuse us of a crime?” So, Peter answered: “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him… We are witnesses to these things. And we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

 

II-  Meaning of these events

 

What I find most striking in these incidents is the extraordinary firm attitude of the apostles. They are very different from what they were during the Passion of Christ. Suddenly, they had become very daring. What happened exactly?

 

Another thing that may strike you here is the fact that their message is not a kind of abstract teaching, but the person of Jesus himself. They did not speak only of God and his kingdom, but they spoke mainly of Jesus. They invited all the people to believe in him and to recognize in him the Chosen One of God, their Lord and Saviour. That was something completely new. It was the beginning of Christianity.

That was precisely what the religious authorities of Israel reproached them. If they had spoken only of God, they would have been left in peace. But they proclaimed Jesus as the Christ! The event that upset the whole of Jerusalem was this: The “Jesus case” occupied again the headlines. Everybody thought it was all over, but it was starting all over again.

And what exactly happened? What was it that made the apostles so sure of themselves and so daring? Many Jews must have asked themselves this question. We may think that the apostles themselves did not understand what was happening to them. No! They understood that Jesus was alive and was now working through them In other words, what Jesus had done during his life was now continued through them. No- thing was over. Everything began!

 

III-   What are we to do?   

 

Now we have to ask ourselves:  what are the implications of these events?

 

If we truly believe that Jesus is alive today, we have to show it somehow through our actions.

  1. I see this happening when some of you get actively involved in the work of various Associations or the services of various ministries in our parish community. In other words, you understand very well what Pope John XXIII told a group of lay people before the last Ecumenical Council began: “Don’t remain motionless like statues in a museum.” That is also what happened some years ago in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur.

The Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Most Rev. Dominic Vendargon, wanted to give an opportunity for pastoral renewal to all his priests and invited all of them for a month-long course in the island of Penang. At the same time, he wanted to help the faithful in his archdiocese realize their responsibility to become actively involved in various ministries: let the parish be fully in their hands for four weeks, so that they may experience a greater involvement and, at the same time, realize how poorly prepared they were to take up their role as living members of the Church.

Pastors prepared them in advance and a basic training was given to a few parish leaders who took care of the regular parish services, Sunday and weekly communion, prayer meetings, visits to the sick, burials, emergency baptisms, weddings, etc. All were excited. However, some thought it could mean disaster to some parishes. Actually, it came to be a great blessing. This was called the “shock treatment.” The results were evident and, very soon, within one year after the “shock treatment,” about half of all the parishes were maintaining a level of lay liturgical ministry that was greater than the level that existed before.

 

  1. I see that Jesus is still alive today when I meet some parents who are keen on supporting and encouraging their children to be faithful in attending Sunday catechesis and receive proper instructions in the faith.

In the course of a conference that he gave before he became a Pope, cardinal Ratzinger mentioned that he had met a particular woman in the course of one of his visits to Germany. That woman told him that her son, studying in a Primary School, was taught “the Christology found in the Logia of the Kurios,” but had not yet been taught about the seven sacraments and the articles of the Creed.

When you take an active part in the life of our parish community, it is a sign that what Jesus did 2000 years ago he continues to do today through you.

Author: 
Hervé Morissette, csc