Monthly Scripture Reflection

“You know what has happened.”
Acts 10:37

Yes, in April we will be reminded of all that happened in the early church. The Acts of the Apostles selections tell how the first followers came to understand their beliefs and how they lived them. The Epistles elaborate on these accounts, and the Gospels relate the exhilarating Resurrection stories and the teachings of Jesus that set the stage for our discipleship.

The apostles start out by assuring listeners that they had indeed actually witnessed the wonders and good deeds and the Resurrection that they relate. Not only that, but they report Jesus had “commissioned” them to “testify,” so that “everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” In response, the community was “of one heart and mind,” held possessions in common and distributed goods as needed. They preached repentance and belief in that Name by which we are to be saved. No wonder “the church . . . was at peace [and] being built up.”

Later, as the teachings began to be written down, the deep faith of the Epistle writers shines forth. They are caught up in in living for what “is above,” and teach how best to show our love for God: “obey his commandments” and “believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” They write not for their own memories but so we know how Jesus saves us. That we will know “what love the Father has bestowed on us,” that we are God’s children now.” And he remains with us, which we cam know because of “the Spirit he gave us.”

The Gospels delight in telling of the Resurrection. How Mary Magdalene saw the tomb empty and ran to tell the apostles Peter and John, who “saw and believed.” The two disciples going to Emmaus did not recognize Jesus until he broke bread and gave it to them. Then they realized that what he had been explaining to them were all the scripture passages that foretold about him. Later the disciples were quaking in the locked Upper Room when suddenly the risen Jesus appeared among them and showed them his hands and side, and they “rejoiced when they knew it was the Lord!” “He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” that “you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” And to know that “through this belief you may have life in his name.” St. John reiterates Jesus saying “I am the good shepherd” who actually did lay down his life for his flock. And again, that he is “the vine” and we are the branches, that “without me you can do nothing.”

Here we are today, and Jesus is still asking, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?” If the disciples, who were “witnesses of these things” had a hard time putting incipient beliefs into action, perhaps we might be cut a little slack as we struggle to live what we profess. We must learn to “remain in [Jesus] as [he] remains in us.” Then we can “bear much fruit.” “The victory that conquers the world is our faith!”

John writes in his Epistle, “Let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” And he quotes Jesus,

“Do not be unbelieving but believe.”
John 20:27