Thursday, April 23, 2009


First Reading: Acts 5:27-33
Psalm: Ps 34:2, 9, 17-20
Gospel: Jn 3:31-36


There is a phrase in today's reading that immediately stands out:
"We gave you strict orders (did we not?) to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man's blood upon us."
But Peter and the apostles said in reply, "We must obey God rather than men." -Acts 5:28-29
He is referring to their earlier conversation, in which he told them that they should judge as they must, but the apostles would continue their message (Acts 4:19-20). He was leaving open the door for them to understand that the Sanhedrin could not repeal what God had commanded of the apostles. Peter makes it clear again today that God is the authority.

Oftentimes today, people want to make other things have more authority than God. Politicians make laws contrary to Church doctrine and demand that people respect their law above their conscience. Others proclaim that Christians should be more tolerant of this group or that and that God never meant those parts of the bible anyway. Some places in our world still insist that Christians renounce Jesus or be imprisoned or killed.

In the gospel reading, we are reminded of this theme again:
The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all. -John 3:31
Jesus is above all, meaning that he is the judge, the final authority, of all. While we are on this earth, we have leaders positioned over us, be they religious, political or parent. We trust that they will use their authority wisely. However, they (and we) sometimes get caught up in details of life. We focus on the here and now and speak of how something is "compassionate" or "justifiable under the circumstances." In short, reasons are invented as to why the authority of our earthly leaders should trump all others. However, the gospel makes it very clear who we should obey when our earthly laws conflict with our heavenly orders.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him. -John 3:36

Heavenly Father, we give You thanks for the gift of this day. We pray that You will guide our leaders and bless them with the virtue of justice. Protect them from the draw of temptation, which promises them a way that will appease everyone. We also pray for those who follow, that they might encourage their leaders in righteousness and redirect those leaders who would lead them astray. We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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