Acts 4:13-21; Ps 118:1,14-21; Mk 16: 9-15
Wouldn’t it make more sense to hear today’s Gospel first and then the reading from Acts? The future of the church doesn’t look too bright when after all the appearances of the Risen Christ he takes them to task for their disbelief and their stubbornness, since they had put no faith in those who had seen him after he had been raised. Perhaps it doesn’t look too bright for us either as Bright Week comes to an end. After rejoicing and gladness for almost the entire Octave of Easter, do we offer the world the kind of bold witness we hear about in the Acts of the Apostles? Do we refuse to obey any authority that demands our silence? Do we stand up before loud and threatening people and speak the truth in love anyway?
The leaders, the priests and elders, were amazed as they observed the self-assurance of Peter and John. What they could not understand is how these two uneducated and unimportant men could stand up for anything. Yet, it was not the grand rhetorical skills of the early church nor was it any significant position in society that attracted so many people to the good news. Those who heard the preaching and witnessed the signs and wonders were as amazed as the leaders. Neither the people nor the leaders could easily dismiss those who had been with Jesus. Is that not what we share in common with Peter and John? Have we not been with Jesus? Have we not grown closer to Christ through this year’s celebration of the Paschal Mysteries? Have we not heard and seen things too marvelous to ignore, things about which we must witness?
As it was at the time Saint Mark wrote his gospel, Jesus comes into our table fellowship to both challenge and comfort us. It is a regular comfort for us to see, hear, touch, taste, and even smell his presence among us in the assembly-in the Scriptures, and the Sacraments. We take great comfort in our daily bread; indeed, Jesus gives himself to us constantly. What more could he do for us? This unspeakable comfort enables us to receive the unbearable challenge. What, then, is the challenge of Jesus? Nothing less than, “go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation!”
The Risen Lord Jesus does not wait until all of us have enough faith to heal the lame or even pray with the lame for healing. He does not wait until all members of his church have completely grown out of every vice and grown into every virtue. Rather, the Lord commands his stubborn and doubting disciples to go out with their mustard seed of faith and let it fall into the ground and die so that it can bear much fruit. Jesus Christ is the friend of sinners who scandalizes the self-righteous. Here, again, Jesus makes himself the guest of our table fellowship. Only we who give thanks for his saving love in this Eucharist, who know how much we need Christ, have the self-assurance, the confidence we need to witness his love in word and in action throughout the whole world. While they were at table Jesus was revealed to the Eleven; here at our table Jesus is revealed so that we can be recognized as having been with Jesus.