When enemies make strange bed fellows- Saturday- Octave of Easter- Acts 4:13- 21
A trial of sorts is on and Peter and John stand accused of an act of kindness. It has taken the might of Jewish Sanhedrin to come together. Politics they say make strange bed fellows, and so this incident should not raise eyebrows in surprise.
We are told that Peter and John have healed a cripple in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. A frenzied crowd sees in this act, not the hand of God, but the wonders of humans. Peter gives all the glory to Jesus of Nazareth and calls for a repentance of sin, which leads to the second mass conversion of five thousand people; this time in the very temple of Jerusalem.
Prompted by jealousy, the might of the Sanhedrin gets together; yet as I said it’s a strange assembly for among Peter and John’s accusers, are groups of people who would not get under one umbrella on even the stormiest day; yet they now stand side by side.
Take for example the Pharisees who now stand beside the Sadducees. One understands why the Sadducees were jumping up and down protesting against Peter and John, for John and Peter were preaching a resurrected Christ. The Sadducees denied the belief in the resurrection and angels, something that the Pharisees held close to their heart. Yet while they could never see eye to eye on anything, they now choose to stand hand in hand against the apostles.
Today’s Reading begins with Peter’s response to this sham of a trial. Two uneducated fishermen against the intelligentsia of Jewish authority; and yet the trial tilts hopelessly against the might of learning. Perhaps the miracle of the heart lies in this incident, as opposed to the miracle of the eyes (healing of the cripple) which triggered of the trial. The miracle of the heart is when we trust that God is in command and He is in control of our situation.
We are told that the Jewish authorities were taken aback by the “boldness” of Peter and John; boldness is different from bravado. Bravado is a ‘show’ or display, intended to impress or intimidate. The Greek word for boldness is ‘parrhesia’ which translates as, “the freedom and confidence which the divine Spirit gives its spokesperson despite all dangers.” It is the hallmark of the apostles preaching (Acts 2: 29. 4: 29, 31)! They don’t preach with bravado unlike the Jewish authorities, but with boldness.
Given the challenges we face as religious minorities, as in the case in India, there is a need for a “new evangelization”. This was a call given by Saint John Paul II in Haiti when he spoke of this new evangelization; new in its fervour, expression, and methods. This newness must be accompanied by boldness not bravado, one that places confidence in the divine Spirit in the face of any danger.
The Early Church grew in number because of the boldness of the apostles. Perhaps, there is a lesson for us in today’s reading.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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