|“They were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s word with confidence.” —Acts 4:31|
The apostles were thrown into prison by the Jewish leaders for healing a crippled man and then “teaching the people and proclaiming the resurrection of the dead in the person of Jesus” (Acts 4:2). They were then threatened by the leaders to never mention the name of Jesus again (Acts 4:17) and were released. The apostles returned to the other disciples and prayed for complete assurance when they proclaimed the Word of God (Acts 4:29-30). After this prayer, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They continued to speak God’s Word with confidence (Acts 4:31).
Like the first believers in the risen Jesus, we must not be alarmed that the powerful of the world rage and conspire against us (see Acts 4:25). The Church and its members have been attacked for centuries. God in heaven simply laughs (Ps 2:4). He has eternal, almighty power. The powerful of the world wield their power for but a moment in time.
Therefore, we must pray for that same confidence, assurance, and boldness that the apostles possessed. God wants us to confidently know that if He is for us, no one can be against us (Rm 8:31). “He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jn 4:4, RSV-CE). We are more than conquerors in Jesus (Rm 8:37). Persevere in spreading the Word of God. We are invincible when we are rooted in Jesus and stand securely in the center of His will.
|Prayer: May we stir up the Holy Spirit in the world, Lord Jesus. Raise up many teenagers and adults to accept holy, confident, and bold religious vocations and to speak God’s Word with confidence.|
|Promise: “No one can enter into God’s kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit.” —Jn 3:5|
|Praise: St. Fidelis devoted himself to frequent prayer after the Lord revealed to him that he would be martyred.|
From an ancient Easter homily
In an imperfect and transitory way, the types and images of the past prefigured the perfect and eternal reality which has now been revealed. The presence of what is represented makes the symbol obsolete: when the king appears in person no one pays reverence to his statue.The Passover we celebrate brings salvation to the whole human race beginning with the first man, who together with all the others is saved and given life.
How far the symbol falls short of the reality is seen from the fact that the symbolic Passover celebrated the brief life of the firstborn of the Jews, whereas the real Passover celebrates the eternal life of all mankind. It is a small gain to escape death for a short time, only to die soon afterward; it is a very different thing to escape death altogether as we do through the sacrifice of Christ, our Passover.
Correctly understood, its very name shows why this is our greatest feast. It is called the Passover because, when he was striking down the firstborn, the destroying angel passed over the houses of the Hebrews, but it is even more true to say that he passes over us, for he does so once and for all when we are raised up by Christ to eternal life.
If we think only of the true Passover and ask why it is that the time of the Passover and the salvation of the firstborn is taken to be the beginning of the year, the answer must surely be that the sacrifice of the true Passover is for us the beginning of eternal life. Because it revolves in cycles and never comes to an end, the year is a symbol of eternity.
Christ, the sacrifice that was offered up for us, is the father of the world to come. He puts an end to our former life, and through the regenerating waters of baptism in which we imitate his death and resurrection, he gives us the beginning of a new life. The knowledge that Christ is the Passover lamb who was sacrificed for us should make us regard the moment of his immolation as the beginning of our own lives. As far as we are concerned, Christ’s immolation on our behalf takes place when we become aware of this grace and understand the life conferred on us by this sacrifice. Having once understood it, we should enter upon this new life with all eagerness and never return to the old one, which is now at an end. As Scripture says: We have died to sin – how then can we continue to live in it?
|“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven them.” —John 20:22-23|
In the evening of the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus came to His disciples, showed them His nail-scarred hands and wounded side, breathed on them, gave them the Holy Spirit, and sent them out (Jn 20:19-22). Jesus sent His disciples out not to just make a general announcement of His Resurrection but to specifically invite us to confess our sins and be forgiven (see Jn 20:23; Lk 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38).
One of the first acts of the risen Christ was to begin to develop the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the forgiveness of sins. One of the first things we need to do this Easter season is to repent and go to Confession. When we have removed the planks of sin from our own eyes, we can then remove the specks from the eyes of others by calling them to repent, forgive, go to Confession, be forgiven (Mt 7:5), and immerse ourselves in the limitless mercy of God.
Without Confession, our celebration of the Easter season will be aborted and not come to full term. With Confession, we will meet the risen Christ, be sent to proclaim the forgiveness of sins, and celebrate the risen Christ for the full Easter season and for eternity.
|Prayer: Father, may my first Confession in this Easter season be life-changing. On this Mercy Sunday, may I experience the depth of Your ocean of mercy as You reconcile me to Yourself.|
|Promise: The brethren “devoted themselves to the apostles’ instruction and the communal life, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” —Acts 2:42|
|Praise: Praise Jesus, “the Resurrection and the Life” (Jn 11:25), “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14:6).|