One of the things I love about the Easter season is that each year our first Mass readings come from Acts, the book that teaches about the founding of the Christian church and the early spread of Christianity.
Today’s passage from Acts is one of my favorites. The “leaders, elders and scribes,” having observed “the boldness of Peter and John,” determine that they must stop the spread of what they are proclaiming. So they haul the two in and order them “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.”
Fat chance. Peter and John, in no uncertain terms, insist: “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”
It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.
Pope Francis has placed much emphasis on our need to encounter Christ. For good reason: We can’t share what we don’t have. We can’t effectively evangelize others unless we ourselves have been touched by Christ. Oh, we can tell them about some things we have read, but we can’t ignite a spark in them.
And the flip side is what we see in today’s reading: If we have encountered Christ, we can’t help but share it. Evangelization is not a job we “have” to do; rather it is a natural outpouring of our own experience. If we have been touched by Christ, we can’t help but share it. That is the urge that I think Peter and John are expressing.
This Easter season invites us to experience the risen Christ. To encounter Christ. Only then can we fulfill the charge to proclaim the Gospel to all nations.