Witnessing God’s mercy and love

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“…The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name…” from today’s New Testament reading.


Although we’re familiar with the Gospels, often we don’t spend much time reading the Acts of the Apostles. Their experience of the risen Christ moved them, as it has believers throughout the following centuries, to tell the world of God’s mercy and our redemption. During their missionary work, their bold preaching and miraculous healings resulted in conversions to “The Way” by people from many cultures, and over a period of time, and despite persecutions, the Christian faith spread throughout the Roman Empire.

The apostles, in today’s reading, were warned in a humiliating and frightening way to stop talking about Jesus. If we think deeply about it, we’re also often told to do that. But with us, it happens in more subtle ways – we “get the message” from secular institutions, societal conventions, and sometimes even from our friends or family. Of course, when we provide Christian service we usually receive recognition and approval for the good works we do – as long as we keep any mention of our personal faith in Jesus out of it.

But aren’t we commissioned to continue what the apostles began? Aren’t we, by virtue of our Confirmation, empowered to talk about Jesus, our brother and our Lord? Our two patron saints, St. Stephen and St. Patrick, certainly did. Of course, they are examples from a long-gone world – but the call continues, as priests, religious, catechists and lay missionaries will attest. We’re strong enough to deal with any criticism we might receive, I’m sure. There’s still much to do. Let’s pray about how we can help.

In the meantime, let’s continue to talk with our children and grandchildren about our faith in God – how our faith allows us to see the beauty in the world and accept the trials that are present in every life. Teach them to pray, even when they complain. No matter what the future may bring, and despite any limitations of age, health, or work obligations, we can still be a witness to God’s mercy and love.

Dorothy Hathway Forbes, CSJA