The Challenge to Believe

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter

April 23, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, our readings demonstrate how hard it is for some people to believe – because deepening belief usually requires a soul-change.

disputebeforesanhedrin1700
Fra Angelico, Dispute before Sanhedrin, Cappella Niccolina, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican

In our first reading, the high priest and Sanhedrin just don’t get it. No matter how severe the oppression, Peter and the Apostles are not going to stop sharing the Good News. Even miracles and inexplicable prison escapes do not convince them that maybe the Apostles have some special blessing to offer them.

Why won’t the Sanhedrin listen? Why are they in such denial about what they are witnessing?

The Sanhedrin were members of a privileged class. They had things set up nicely to their material benefit. Jesus was a bombshell turning their comfortable world upside down. So they resorted to any tool possible to eradicate him: denial, oppression, persecution, even murder.

But the Good News of Jesus Christ is ineradicable.

Jn3_believe

In our Gospel, John minces no words about the fate of unbelievers:

The Father loves the Son
and has given everything over to him.

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.

When I look at our world, I see a lot of that “wrath”, don’t you? I see situations of pain, injustice, greed, and irreverence for Creation that could not exist in a truly believing world.

Seeing these things, I examine my own life for the places where faith has not converted me, for the kinds of resistant behaviors that prevented the Sanhedrin from receiving the greatest gift possible – a fully faithful and compassionate heart.


Here’s a little extra thought from Shakespeare whose birth we celebrate today. The quote from Henry V seems appropriate for the topic.

Henry V

Music: A Faithful Heart – Libera
(I imagine that this lovely song is usually interpreted as a marriage canticle, but I think it perfectly describes the sacred covenant between God and the faithful believer.)

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