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April 12, 2018 - Whoever Believes

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

Scripture Readings

What inspiring readings we have today!  Here we have one of the great power plays of the Bible; The apostles and Peter are brought before the authorities (again), and are in trouble for teaching about Jesus.  In their day, teaching like this wasn’t just a religious opinion or freedom of expression.  It was undermining the authority structure of their society.  They were enemies of both the ‘church’ and the state.  But the power of the resurrection has freed the apostles from those who talk about ‘earthly things.’  “We must obey God rather than men!” proclaims Peter.  As Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit is not rationed out in subsistence portions; instead, the power of Christ compels the apostles to courageously stand up to every possible obstacle. 

Does this feel amazing when you compare it to your faith?  For me, it makes my faith seem timid and small.  I struggle to see how the Gifts of the Spirit that I have received are at all comparable.  Jesus states in today’s hyperbolic gospel that whoever believes in the son has eternal life.  It seems to me that the key word there is ‘believe.’  When we recite the creed, we begin with “I believe in…” This summary of belief reads like a theological laundry list of Truths.  There are good historical reasons for that.  But next to today’s gospel, my recitation of it feels insufficient.  I say the words, I say I believe them, and I mean that I am convinced that they are true by faith in God and God’s Church.  But belief in today’s gospel means something more.  The Apostle’s belief was deep and total.  As witnesses of the risen Jesus and recipients of the Holy Spirit, everything in their minds and hearts was transformed.  ‘Heavenly things’ now took permanent priority; ‘earthly things’ had no value or bearing at all on their behavior.  The authorities were truly powerless to stop people with such a Spirit.  In my life, I still spend a lot of time thinking of earthly things; my house, my job, what I will eat and drink, etc.  Too often, it feels like God gets whatever is left. 

But what a blessing it is to live our calling without distractions!  What a blessing it is to have a Holy Zeal, the confidence that we are doing the right thing with our lives!  What a blessing it is to believe in a way that is so much more than an assent to Truth.  The Good News satisfies and inspires our hunger today; again, “He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.”  Come Holy Spirit!  May the amazing news of Jesus’s resurrection transform our hearts and drive out all that distracts us from the Holy life you made us to live!  Amen.

- Chris Nieport