Acts 28:16-20,20,31; Ps 11:4,5,7; Jn 21:20-25
Saint Paul ends his witness in Rome wearing chains solely because he shares the hope of Israel. Simon Peter learns that his business is to follow the Lord Jesus rather than be concerned wit the witness of the other disciple, the Beloved Disciple. His is the ideal witness to the Lord Jesus and his truthful testimony is written down. All through his public ministry the Lord Jesus has had his searching glance upon mankind. He has seen through the window of the soul, and he has discerned between the just and the wicked. The Lord Jesus is just and he loves just deeds; the upright shall see his face. As our fifty days of Easter Jubilation concludes tomorrow with the Great Feast of Pentecost, we too are expected to wear chains, follow him, and give a testimony that is true. None of these expectations of contemporary disciple is at all realistic without the Power From On High—the Spirit-Paraclete. We could never suffer the indignity of house arrest, or dare follow him to the cross, or give one word of testimony without the Holy Spirit for whom we have waited in prayer these last nine days.
In his explanation of his imprisonment in Rome, Saint Paul describes his house arrest as being in chains, but, as he writes elsewhere, you cannot chain the Word of the Lord. All his time in the Roman Capital is spent waiting for his case to be heard by the Imperial Court, yet Saint Paul is not wasting a moment of time. During his two year sentence Saint Paul welcomed anyone who came to visit him. “With full assurance, and without any hindrance whatever, he preached the reign of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ” We too, wait for the judgment—not of the Emperor but of the Lord Jesus Christ when he comes in his glory. In our waiting do we witness? Perhaps our annual liturgical waiting in joyful hope for Pentecost has given us training in the art of prayerful waiting and passionate witnessing. Perhaps what we do in the liturgy during these nine days between the Ascension and Pentecost has and will continue to have an effect on our lifestyle. Or perhaps we are about to complete another Easter Season without the slightest desire for the fire and fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The Apostles give a witness that is brilliant and bothersome at the same time. How could I ever expect to be like Saint Paul, Saint Peter, or Saint John? Of course none of us could offer the exact same witness as any of the early disciples, but all of us are summoned by the same Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be saints. Saint Peter in today’s gospel asks the question to which the whole community wanted an answer. “But Lord, what about him?” The Lord Jesus has a plan and a purpose for each of his followers. Saint Peter models for each of us what it is like to deny the Lord three times and still be called by the Lord to loving service. The Beloved Disciple models for each of us what it is like to stand at the cross because you cannot not be close to your beloved Lord. Because these earliest disciples were so faithful in their witness, we too can be faithful in our witnessing. Indeed we gather around the same great high priest who enables us to lift up our lives in sacrifice to the Father by the transforming fire of the Holy Spirit. Such a sacrificial life begun in the Liturgy of Easter continues to overflow into our daily dying and rising through Him, with Him and in Him for the glory of the Father and in the Holy Spirit—now and ever and forever! Amen! Alleluia!