Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
Acts 5:27-33 + John 3:31-36
“We must obey God rather than men!”
Baptism is not a private experience. It is not simply about “me and Jesus”. Baptism washes away not only one’s own personal sins, but also the sin of Adam and Eve. All members of the human race have shared that original sin, with the exceptions of Mary and Jesus.
Likewise, as the baptismal bath washes away death in both personal and communal ways, so baptism also brings about new life in the soul of the baptized in two ways. The individual Christian, during the course of his earthly days, works out his salvation [see Philippians 2:12] through his membership in the Church: that is, by sharing in her saving mission.
This Church, the Body of Christ, is the answer to the questions that today’s readings raise. The evangelist explains that there’s a difference between those who speak of earthly things, and those who speak of God. Peter himself, the first visible head of the Church, says ultimately the same thing in Acts. In front of Jewish officials, Peter offers an explanation for why the apostles disobey the officials, declaring: “We must obey God rather than men!” Yet, ironically, these Jewish officials were representatives of God!
Most Christians, in fact, represent God in some manner or another. Parents represent God to their children. Catechists represent God to their pupils. Clergy represent God to those entrusted to their care, and not only through the sacraments. This is as God designed the Church, although of course, this is where difficulties arise within the Church. Those called to represent God fail through sin or ignorance.
From the day of Pentecost, the Church has not been perfect. As we prepare ourselves for the celebration of Pentecost, we beg the Holy Spirit for those gifts that will allow each of us to be seen as pure icons of our Crucified and Risen Lord, and to represent God faithfully in thought, word and action.