Like Jesus, we are to be witnesses of obedience.
According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis urged this today, April 27, 2017, during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, his last before departing for his Apostolic Visit to Egypt, April 28-29.
The Pope’s homily focused on today’s reading, in which Peter says before the Sanhedrin: “You must obey God rather than men.” Francis recalled that an angel had freed Peter and the Apostles from prison and that they were forbidden to teach in Jesus’s name. Yet the high priest said: “You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us”.
To help those present in his chapel better understand this event, the Jesuit Pontiff also referred to the Book of Acts, regarding the early months of the Church which describes a growing Christian community and many miracles.
While there was the faith of the people, Francis said, there were also “wily” people trying to take advantage of the situation and “wanting to make a career for themselves,” he lamented.
Happens Too Today
Today, we see the same kind of dynamics, the Holy Father observed, especially when we refer to those who despise “God’s faithful people.”
In today’s reading, the Pope noted, Peter, who betrayed Jesus on Holy Thursday, this time, courageously answered the high priest saying: “we must obey God rather than men.”
Peter’s answer, the Successor of Peter said, makes it clear that “a Christian is a witness of obedience” as Jesus was. He recalled when Jesus said to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane: “not my will but yours be done.”
“The Christian is a witness of obedience,” he said, pointing out, “if we are not on this path and growing in our witness we are not Christians.”
He stressed that being Christian demands this trait.
“Jesus,” the Pope clarified, “is not the testimonial of an idea, of a philosophy, of a company, of a bank or of power: he is a testimonial of obedience”.
Holy Spirit’s Grace
To become a “witness of obedience,” the Pontiff highlighted, we need the “grace of the Holy Spirit”.
“Only the Spirit can make us witnesses of obedience. It’s not enough to listen to spiritual guides or to read books…. all that is fine but only the Spirit can change our heart and make us witnesses of obedience,” he said.
We must ask for this grace, the Pope said, recommending we say: “Father, Lord Jesus, send me your Spirit so that I may become a witness of obedience, that is, a Christian.”
To be witnesses of obedience, Francis also warned, implies consequences. In the first reading, after Peter responded, the high priests wanted to put him to death.
Crosses to Be Expected
“Persecutions were the consequences of this witness of obedience. When Jesus lists the Beatitudes he ends with the words ‘Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you,’” he said.
The cross, the Pope pointed out, cannot be taken away from the life of a Christian.
“Being a Christian has nothing to do with social status, it is not a lifestyle that makes one feel good; being a Christian means being a witness of obedience and the life of a Christian is full of insults and persecutions.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily saying that in order to be witnesses of obedience like Jesus, it is necessary to pray, to recognize that we are sinners with much “worldliness” in our hearts.
He also encouraged those present to ask God for the grace of becoming witnesses of obedience” and to not be afraid when we are insulted and persecuted “because as the Lord said: the Spirit will tell us what to answer.”