The Reflections are copyright protected and permission to use them is requested.

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

Reading Acts 5:27-33
Gospel John 3:31-36

“We must obey God rather than men!”

How does the Church need the Gift of the Holy Spirit today? To answer that, consider that baptism is not a private experience. It washes away not only one’s own personal sins, but also the sin of Adam and Eve. That original sin has been shared by all members of the human race through all generations, except Mary and Jesus. Just as this washing away of death is both personal and communal, so is the bringing of new life. The individual finds his salvation through his membership in the Body of Christ, and through participating in her saving mission.

This Church, the Body of Christ, is the answer to the questions raised in today’s readings. In the Gospel passage, Jesus explains that there’s a difference between the type of person who speaks of earthly things, and the type of person who speaks of God. Peter himself, the first visible head of the Church, says ultimately the same thing in Acts. In front of Jewish officials, Peter offers an explanation for the apostles disobeying the officials: “We must obey God rather than men!” But these officials were supposed to be the representatives of God!

As is true of the person of Jesus Christ, who is true God and true man, it’s easy to become confused about the nature of the Church. Who, as a member of the Church, speaks merely as a human, and who speaks for God? Those who are looked upon as representatives of the Church know how easily their offenses can be taken as the offenses of the Church. Certainly if this confusion is sometimes a mistake, it is also at times correct.

The Church can give offense through her sinful members. From the day of Pentecost, the Church has not been perfect. As we prepare ourselves for the celebration of Pentecost, we beg the Holy Spirit for those gifts that will allow us to be seen as pure icons of our Crucified and Risen Lord.