Guilty as Charged?
(3rd Sunday of Easter: Acts 5:27-41; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19)
A question often quoted in Christian sermons asks, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would they find enough evidence to convict you?” The Apostles, in today’s reading from Acts, sought no defense against the charges brought against them. They admitted their guilt, and they left the court “rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.”
When we see how Mary at La Salette described the behavior of her people, we would have to conclude they could easily have pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the accusation of being Christian.
Earlier, in Acts 4:18, the Apostles had been forbidden to speak in the name of Jesus. At that time, Peter had answered: “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” Now, in Chapter 5, though they are found guilty of again speaking “in that name,” they are released, but with a warning which includes flogging. The verse immediately after our reading adds: “And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus.”
At La Salette, on the other hand, the Beautiful Lady states that her people, in moments of anger, “cannot swear without throwing in my Son’s Name.”
In Revelation we read today, “I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever."
The whole universe praises the Father and the Son, except for “my people.” Mary complains on God’s behalf: “I gave you six days to work; I kept the seventh for myself, and no one will give it to me.”
Let us be clear. The message of La Salette is not limited to religious practices; their origin lies in a relationship of respect and love. This is what gave the Apostles courage in the face of persecution.
In the longer version of today’s Gospel, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” If with Peter we may honestly answer, “You know that I love you,” and live accordingly, then yes, we are guilty of being Christians.