Acts 2: 42-47
This first reading gives a beautiful and inspiring picture of the life of the post-Resurrection christian community in Jerusalem. Most of us will not feel called to adopt their lifestyle but we can seek to imitate the generosity which led them to ask: not ‘What must we do?’ but ‘What more can I do?’ to express my enthusiasm and gratitude for the faith which has given me such joy and hope.
1 Pet 1:3-9
We in the western Church have tended to think more about and put greater emphasis on the Passion and death rather than the Resurrection. The very early Church, the eastern Orthodox and the Celtic Church saw the Resurrection as most important. Here, Peter gives thanks to the Father who has given us a new life as his children ‘by raising Jesus Christ from the dead.’ The rest of the reading is full of joy and hope. Peter assumes that the believers are ‘filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described’. Is joy as much a mark of the christian as it surely should be?
Sometimes we cannot ‘hear’ what a scripture passage says because we are so sure that we already know what it says and means. It may be important to notice who is being addressed: is it ‘the crowds’, ‘the disciples’ or ‘the Twelve’? ‘The disciples’ means some of the close group around Jesus – not twelve men but ‘the Twelve, the women and his brethern’, a representative group of disciples. Here Jesus speaks to ‘the disciples’, commonly mistranslated in our heads as ‘the Twelve’.
Two major passages in scripture are specially important for an understanding of the Church: the account of Pentecost and the great ‘Mission’ in Matt 28. Here, we have a mission: Jesus says ‘As the Father sent me so am I sending you’. And a ‘Pentecost’: ‘He breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit’ This ‘missioning’ is not to preaching but to forgiveness.
What does this passage mean to you if it is seen as a mandate and a challenge to all his disciples rather than only giving special power to a particular group? It gives a great power to forgiveness itself. It calls on us all to exercise it.
Sr. Genevieve Mooney OP