Its day twelve of our Easter Season. Is anyone still celebrating?
For many of us, festivities ceased that Sunday night and have long since been pushed to the back of the mind. So many other things have taken precedence over remembering Triduum and our Easter celebration. I once heard that it is easier to practice repentance during Lent than it is to practice the joys of Easter (to remain an "Easter People") and there’s such a strong truth to that statement. As humans we tend to forget easily. Come Easter Monday, the world draws our attention back to the problems of our everyday lives, and suddenly everything that mattered to us on Sunday doesn’t seem to be there on Monday.
The church takes today’s opportunity to remind us to keep alive the message of Easter in every aspect of our lives. The Apostles certainly did this. Going back a few verses (5:14-25), it’s easy to see that they have been busy. They’ve been curing the sick and bringing "multitudes" to Christ. It’s hard to imagine that these are the very men who just a few weeks ago were fleeing at Jesus’ arrest, were absent at his Passion and Crucifixion, and were cowering when Jesus appeared to them bearing the markings of his death. By the first reading, the Apostles have been brought before the Sanhedrin who are furious because these men are converting hearts with their testimonies. The Apostles can’t seem to remain silent for their own safety. Why? They have opened their eyes and seen the fulfillment of Jesus’s time with them through his Passion and Resurrection. They have seen a God that loves them. They have been witnesses to resurrection in their lives and they have let that love work and transform their own lives.
That word-witness-is a double-edged sword for Luke’s community. Some have become like the Sanhedrin who were witnesses of Jesus’s work yet went out of their way to destroy him in physical form as well as within their own hearts. Others are like the Apostles, who have done the opposite. They are weaving the word God into their lives. The Apostles are bold enough to make a grand contrast between themselves and the council: "The God of our ancestors raised Jesus though you killed him…"
In the Gospel, John the Baptist sums the situation up quite well. When one witnesses the glory of God, his good news, one must testify to it. John the Baptist knows Jesus is doing exactly what the Father called him to do. He himself is one of the greatest witnesses; he is mentioned in all four Gospels as one whose entire life is spent calling people’s attention to the Lord’s Good News. But this "living the Good News" thing isn’t meant to be easy. Look at what happened to those that lived this kind of lifestyle-eleven out of twelve of those that stand before the Sanhedrin in today’s story will be murdered. John the Baptist was beheaded. Yet these people rose to the call to spread this news because it had changed, inspired and empowered them.
As an Easter People we are newly aware of our connections to our God and to our community. We’ve all witnessed rebirth in our Churches and homes as we put away the Lenten décor and brought out the glowing white of Easter. God has called us to give testimony to these things in the way we live our lives and interact with others. It’s something we cannot ignore.
Today is a good day to reflect back and meditate on your Easter experience from Sunday up to now. How are you different having come through? How are you different from last Easter? How are you continuing to incorporate the life of the Risen Lord into your own, and testify about it to others?
Sandy Smith is a volunteer at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center in Citrus Heights, California.