Impossible Not to Speak the Name

Saturday in the Octave of Easter
April 15, 2023

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, the reasonable Sanhedrin try to deal with Peter and John’s “bold” testimony for Christ.

Observing the boldness of Peter and John
and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men,
the leaders, elders, and scribes were amazed,
and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus.
Then when they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them,
they could say nothing in reply.

Acts 4: 13-14

The Sanhedrin was an assembly of elders or rabbis appointed to sit as a tribunal in every city in the ancient Israel. As a body, they claimed powers that lesser Jewish courts did not have. As such, they were the only ones who could try the king, extend the boundaries of the Temple and Jerusalem, and were the ones to whom all questions of law were finally put.

from Wikipedia

Peter Before the Sanhedrin by Nikolai Ge (1892)

These men existed on the ultimate power they had over the people. It was the source of their influence, wealth and independence. Now this Jesus and his bold buddies come along trying to upset the apple cart. The old familiar, comfortable world is threatened and they don’t like it.

Their solution is overly simplistic. They tell Peter and John to just shut up:

The Sanhedrin conferred with one another, saying,
“What are we to do with these men?
Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign
was done through them, and we cannot deny it.
But so that it may not be spread any further among the people,
let us give them a stern warning
never again to speak to anyone in this name.”
So they called them back
and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4: 15-17

Peter and John say “sorry guys”! Easter-inspired faith doesn’t work that way:

Peter and John, however, said to them in reply,
“Whether it is right in the sight of God
for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges.
It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.

Acts 4:18

Peter and John make it sound simple too, don’t they. They tell us that it is impossible not to live our witness to the Gospel.

But I think we all know that it’s not that simple. Witnessing our faith in a morally complex world takes courage, insight, humility and wisdom. 

We are not passive participants in the often crippled world around us. Like Peter and John, we are called to pay attention to suffering, and to be healers. We are called to be witnesses to the Resurrection by the faithful generosity of our lives.

Prose: Marianne Williamson – from A Return to Love

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 
It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. 
We ask ourselves 'who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?'
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. 
You’re playing small doesn't serve the world. 
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking 
so that other people won't feel insecure around you. 
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; its in everyone. 
And as we let our own light shine, 
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others

Music: Speak the Name – Koryn Hawthorne 

Extra Song: I can’t help thinking of — Perry Como singing “Impossible”. Of course, this is a romantic song, but the same principles hold in our devotion to God, and God’s to us. Think about it 🙂

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