We are an Easter people and Alleluia is song! We celebrate a risen Jesus. His victory over death will be our victory some day. The readings of the Easter season from the Acts of the Apostles are full of joy and enthusiasm. We learn how the apostles and disciples of Jesus were successful in their preaching and ministry to Jew and Gentile alike. The Church was alive and took root everywhere. In some towns the enthusiasm of the people reached “fever pitch.” Those must have been exciting days which drew many converts to the faith in Judea, Galilee and Samaria.
As happened in the time of Jesus, signs and wonders accompanied the preaching of the gospel. That is no surprise for Jesus told the Apostles that they would do greater works in his name. In today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles, we find Peter preaching in Joppa and Lydda with great success. The healing of Aeneas and the raising of Tabitha got the attention of the people in that region. St. Luke, the author of Acts, tells us that Tabitha was “completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving.” What a great testimony of the loyalty of this woman of God.
While the reading from Acts gives a high point of ministry by the Apostles, the gospel reading conveys a low point of the ministry of Jesus. His discourse on the Bread of Life causes alarm among many of his followers, who “no longer walked with him.” It must have been a depressing moment for Jesus. His teaching was too much for them. St. Peter saves the day for the Apostles when he affirms that Jesus has “the words of eternal life.” The Apostles may have had some reservations about the strong message of Jesus, but this did not cause them to lose faith in him.
Each of us may find some parts of Scripture hard to understand or to follow whole heartedly. But the overall truth and message of God is contained in his life giving Word. The promises of God are clear for all to see and to accept. We stake our lives on those promises, and we are blessed.
Fr. Michael Salvagna, CP