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We should listen rather to God than to people

Alleluia! Happy Easter, Jesus is Risen!

Yes, we can continue to use these words since we are still in the Easter Season until Sunday, May 28 – the Solemnity of the Descent of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). In this time, we festively and joyfully celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection, his Ascension into heaven, and the descent of the Holy Spirit. This time also marks the beginning of the Church, a church that was created by Jesus himself as a means to sanctification of believers. Through his Church, Jesus calls all people to know their creator and reveals God who loves His creatures. We are people of hope (cf. 1 Thess 4:13-14), and this hope is permeating our daily lives and is also expressed in our words. So, during every Mass, except for Lent, we sing “alleluia” which literally means: “Praise the Lord”.

In this Sunday’s first reading, the Apostle Peter speaks to his fellow citizens with unprecedented boldness:

Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” And when they heard this, “they were cut to the heart,” and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do?” They received this reply: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

What an amazing change in Peter’s attitude! Isn’t this the Peter who just a few days earlier denied his master three times? Isn’t this the Peter who along with others was hiding in fear of the Jews? Where is his and the other Apostles’ fear? Such a radical change in them could only be explained by their experience of the resurrected Jesus – not a dream, not a ghost, but a real bodily resurrected Jesus. He is truly alive as he promised.

What happened with the Apostles then? The Apostles’ courage before the people and later before the highest Jewish authority is the fulfillment of Jesus’ promises that the Holy Spirit will influence the thoughts, words, and actions of the believers. Peter, the Apostles, and others began to give witness to the truth and nothing and no one was able to stop them.

Actually, soon after their public preaching and healing of the paralytic, the Jewish authorities seized Peter and other Apostles and “ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” And what was Peter’s reply to them? He said: “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges.

What a straight and logical answer. In this, Peter appeals to commons sense: should we listen to God or to people who force their own ideas that contradict logic and nature. Peter saw clearly that the world without a conversion of heart and without accepting God’s values is going into an abyss, into moral destruction. So, he did not hesitate to call his listeners: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

For centuries, Christians had to face the same challenge of choosing between conforming to the world or listening to God. This challenge also faces us, living in the 21st century. We have to ask ourselves if we should follow common sense and logic and listen to God, or should we listen to the people who want to impose on us their way of living and thinking. And very frequently their way of living and thinking is modeled on a vision of a caricatured human. World values are not values at all, but very often they are derivatives of corrupt and depraved hearts.

Through our diligent listening to our Lord, through the ministry of the holy Church, and the influence of the Holy Spirit we are able to recognize the truth and follow it. We are also able to clearly recognize the false teaching of the world and reject it. Like Peter and other Apostles, let’s be brave in admitting to others that we want to follow the Gospel values and be witnesses to hope. This could be expressed even in small things such as publicly admitting our Catholic faith, making the sign of the cross, or defending the dignity of human life from conception.

Continued Easter joy and blessings,

Fr. Mark Jurzyk