When the court officers brought the apostles in and made them stand before the council of elders, the high priest questioned them. They said the apostles were given orders not to mention Jesus’ name, yet they filled the crowds with their teaching. Peter did not deny their accusation and boldly accused them of being complicit in the death of Jesus. They became infuriated and wanted to put the apostles to death.
As I read this account, a question that used to circulate in some circles came to mind. If you were charged with being Christian, would you be convicted? Would there be enough evidence to convict you?
It’s a great question to ask ourselves especially coming as it does during the Easter season where we have been immersed in stories about the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus; stories about the empty tomb, the encounters Jesus had with his disciples meeting with them in the upper room, eating with them at the seashore and accounts about the sharing and caring of the early Christian communities.
Peter offers advice to us today about how to strengthen our relationship with Jesus so that yes, there will be enough to convict us. First let us be clear about our use of the word convict.
If convicted for a criminal offense, a person is said to be guilty. However, if convicted in a biblical sense, the individual, with the help of the Holy Spirit, begins to see himself as God sees him. He may experience guilt however when convicted, the guilt is acknowledged but hope emerges along with a profound awareness that Jesus Christ has taken over our life. The Lord pushed back the stone that entombed lives filled with fear, insecurity, worry, self-absorption and filled them with his peace.
Peter put it simply. We must obey God rather than men. We must listen to the voice of God and block out the other voices that crowd Christ out of our thoughts and actions. How is this possible?
There has been enough evidence throughout the centuries of people who have done this and are still doing it, among them Peter Chanel and Louis Grignion de Montfort whose lives we celebrate today. They were convicted.
To be convicted demands decision. It sometimes comes with a price but not always. For a Lutheran pastor it came with a price. He penned a book that spoke of the cost of discipleship in which he said salvation is not cheap grace. He defined “cheap” as forgiveness without repentance, Baptism without discipline, grace without the cross.
We heard St. John tell us today that God does not ration his gift of the Spirit. Seek to obey, listen to the Son. His Father loves Him and has given everything over to Him.
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About Father Leo Polselli, C.S.C.
Father Leo Polselli, C.S.C. is Chaplain at the Father Peyton Center in Easton, MA. Before coming to Holy Cross Family Ministries he served as a teacher and a parish priest. He also served for six years as a General Assistant of the Congregation in Rome, Italy. Originally from Fall River, MA, Father Leo grew up with eight siblings. Gifted with several languages, he is able to serve the Brazilian, Cape Verdean, Portuguese, Spanish and Haitian communities. When he's not greeting everyone who comes to the Father Peyton Center, you can find him regularly reading newspapers!