Today’s first Mass reading from Acts (which we hear each year in the Easter season) is one of my favorite readings in that book. We read today that the leaders, elders and scribes are upset at the boldness of Peter and John in proclaiming the Gospel and they want to put an end to the spread of the message of Christ. So they bring Peter and John before the Sanhedrin and order them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.
It is Peter and John’s response that I find so powerful. In no uncertain terms, they proclaim: “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.”
If we have been touched by Christ, we can’t help but share it. When we experience God in a deep way, we are changed.
The flip side is that we can’t effectively evangelize others unless we ourselves have been touched by Christ. We are all called to proclaim the Gospel. But the reality is that we can transmit the Gospel to others only on the basis of our own personal encounter. Anything else will lack authenticity.
St. Ignatius understood this well. This is why we spend so much time in the Spiritual Exercises being with Jesus, walking with him, getting to know him, learning to love him so deeply we can’t imagine being anywhere else. And it is why we spend time in the final Week of the Exercises being with the Resurrected Christ. For it if do, it will be impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.