7th Week of Easter, Saturday, May 22
Acts 28:16-20, 30-31 / John 21:20-25
Paul preaches in Rome: Ile taught about Jesus.
In the 1960s an apocryphal Peanuts cartoon hung on the walls of a lot of dormitory rooms. The first panel showed Shroeder carrying a sign reading,"Jesus is the answer!" fie second panel showed Snoopy holding a sign reading, "What is the question?" The Jews of Paul's time had no problem with the question. They'd been waiting a long time for the Messiah. Where is he? Why doesn't he come? Paul's response was, "He has come! He is the Lord Jesus Christ!" In support of his claim, Paul showed how Jesus fulfilled the OT prophecies.
Are there any questions in our life to which Jesus is not the answer?
To the blind, he is sight to see by. To the lost, he is a path to follow. To the weak, he is a staff to lean on. To the hungry, he is bread for the heart. To the dead, he is life without end.To all, he is Jesus the Lord.
Today's reading gives us the grand summary of the Acts: The history of how the church came from Jerusalem to Rome, from appearing to be nothing more than a Jewish sect to the proclaiming of the kingdom of God and growing through the unhindered preaching of the word of God, teaching the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ without hindrance from anyone. Paul started as he had always done, for a final time with the Jews. Jesus had been sent first to them. He had to satisfy his brothers in Jerusalem. They still expected that "salvation comes from the Jews" in the way they thought this would happen. The whole of Acts tells us about the subtle play of forces for and against; and how these two men, peter and Paul, now in Rome, had brought the solution about with much prayer and guidance from God, with much suffering, much resistance, but always in the grace of the Lord. The church was still small and frail, in a rented flat, but on its own. It was persecuted, as Jesus wanted his church to be, but in the hands of the Lord.
The books that have been our main companions throughout the Easter Season end with the committed, enthusiastic witness to the Good News of Jesus: Paul in his captivity, and Peter, whose martyrdom is predicted, and John, the beloved apostle, who has given a true testimony of Jesus in his Gospel. What is the witness we can give to Jesus? Does our way of life show that we believe in him and love him?
When Jesus gave Peter responsibility and authority, Peter made use of it immediately. He wanted to know from Jesus what place John would have to take in the Church. Both, like all Christians, had to give witness. Peter gave his witness by shedding his blood, John by writing the Gospel. Both showed by this that they loved Jesus more than anything else. At the time when John wrote the Gospel, Peter had finished giving his witness. He had transferred the centre of God's kingdom on earth from Jerusalem to Rome. Every Christian has to witness for Christ in the place and to perform the function God in his providence has chosen for him. "I want him to stay behind. You are to follow me" (verse 22). In the Church of Christ, it is not a question of rank and privilege that is important, but that each remains faithful to the end.
Lord, our God, like Mary, the women and the apostles on the day before the first Pentecost, we are gathered in prayer. Let the Holy Spirit come down also upon us, that we may become enthusiastic believers and faithful witnesses to the person and the Good News of Jesus. May our way of living bear witness that Jesus is our light and life, now and forever. Amen