Readings: Acts 4:13-21, Ps. 118:1, 14-21, Mark 16:9-15

“Now, when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; they recognised that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man that had been healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.” (Acts 4:13-14)

Fear and doubt are two sides of the same coin. When you are scared of human beings, it is because you don’t believe God can protect you. When Peter and the other apostles gave up their doubts (about Jesus’ resurrection), they became completely different persons; they were no longer afraid of anybody. Even the chief priests and religious leaders became scared of them. They wondered how “uneducated, common men” could be so bold and powerful (even performing miracles). No wonder St. Paul said timidity is not a gift of the Holy Spirit. “God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.”(2 Timothy 1:7). Let us now consider other lessons in today’s readings:

1. When You Fear God, You will Not Fear Human Beings: The Bible says that “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.” (Job 28:28, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7 & Proverbs 9:10). To disobey God for fear of human beings is foolishness. When the authorities told Peter and John never to speak again in the name of Jesus, Peter said: “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20). Peter and John were aware that they were standing before those who conspired to kill Jesus, but they were not scared of them as much as they were scared of disobeying God. Peter and John remembered the words of Jesus: “My friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:4-5). Are you scared of what people can do to you? Reflect instead on what God can do.

2. Let God Defend His Name: Child of God, do you find yourself in a situation where someone in authority (or has some power over you) is forcing you to disobey God or to do something against your conscience? Put God first; let Him defend His Name. Peter and John (like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) resolved: “If God wants to save us, all well and good, but even if He does not save us, we will not succumb to pressure.” Our greatest fear as human beings is the fear of death, but as William Shakespeare would say: “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste death but once.” Do not do not die before your death. Do not quench your light because of what people will do. Do not stop doing good in the name of “I don’t want anyone taking advantage of me” God sees the battles you are fighting. He knows when you stand for Him. Let Him defend His name.

3. Your Past is Not as Important as Your Present: In today’s Gospel passage, Mark describes Mary Magdalene as one from whom Jesus cast out seven demons. Meanwhile, she was the first to see the Risen Jesus. Today, the church honours St. Mary Magdalene with the title of ‘The Apostle of Apostles’ because she was the one that Jesus sent to tell the apostles that He has risen. She is even greater than the apostles because while they were still hiding for fear, she was already preaching the Good News everywhere. Like Mary Magdalene, even the apostles had a negative past. Their hearts were hardened; they were slow to believe. When we go through the Gospels, we find several occasions where Jesus upbraided them. Today, these apostles are revered as saints.

4. Go and Announce the Good News: Regardless of the apostles’ weaknesses, Jesus still entrusted them with the mission: “Go into the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation.” You don’t have to be perfect to become God’s instrument of salvation. You only need to be willing to accept correction and develop a strong desire to improve daily. Do you notice that the apostles did not defend themselves or give excuses like Saul? They did not pass blame like Adam and Eve; they accepted their faults, learnt their lessons and moved on stronger.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, deepen my faith in you and help me to overcome my fear of human beings. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Easter Saturday. Bible Study: Acts 4:13-21, Ps. 118:1, 14-21, Mark 16:9-15).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu