Reading the Acts of the Apostles
with Michael Rubbelke
Director of Adult Faith Formation
 You Will Be
My Witness

THE RISEN LORD IS PRESENT
THROUGH THE APOSTLES
(Acts 3:1-5:42)
Let’s be honest: it is uncomfortable to imagine ourselves as witnesses. We often focus almost instantly on those weaknesses which make witnessing difficult. I find myself rehashing a checklist of desirable qualities only to come up short:

Airtight arguments? I must have forgotten them at home.
Strong faith? “You of little faith” is my middle name.
Compelling social skills? Not great on my end.

Considering my capacities often brings me face-to-face with my poverty. Yet witnessing is not primarily about us but about the One to whom we witness, Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict XVI beautifully described the heart of witnessing this way :

“We become witnesses when, though our actions, words and way of being, Another makes himself present.”

The crucified and risen Jesus lives, speaks, and acts through the witness of the baptized to the world. He delights in doing this through —not in spite of!—our weaknesses.

In this week’s reading (Acts 3:1-5:42), we see Jesus making Himself present through Peter and the Apostles who witness to Him.

  • Just as Jesus healed the paralytic lowered through the roof of His house (Luke 5:17-26), Peter and John cure a crippled man and many others in Christ’s name (Acts 3:1-10; 5:12-16).
  • Just as Jesus preached in the Temple (Luke 20:1-26), the Apostles proclaim His name boldly in His Father’s house (Acts 3:11-4:1; 5:42).
  • Just Jesus met opposition and suffering at the hands of the Sanhedrin (Luke 22:66-71), Peter and the others boldly proclaim Christ’s Lordship before the authorities who had helped to kill Jesus; they are flogged as a result (Acts 4:5-22; 5:17-41).

People see the Apostles, yes, but even more importantly: they see Jesus in and through their words and actions. Through their witness, Jesus continues to heal, teach, and suffer.

The experience of the Apostles was in some ways extraordinary, but we are also reminded just how ordinary they were in other ways, which encourages us in our everyday witness.
Notice the Sanhedrin’s reaction to Peter and John: “Observing [their] boldness […] and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus” (Acts 4:13). It is through their boldness as well as their weakness that the power of Jesus shines forth more evidently, just as it is through the death of Jesus that the most powerful divine act occurs (the resurrection). This is why Saint Paul writes, “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

To the Apostles, the weakness that makes me afraid to witness is the perfect means for Christ’s Spirit to work. We can repeat what Peter tells the lame man: “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you” (Acts 3:6).

Through Baptism and our share in the Church, Christ is ours, and His inscrutable riches are what we have to offer.
 
When we unite our poverty with Christ’s wealth, nothing can keep us from being His witnesses, even if this happens in rather ordinary ways. Jesus may not choose to heal those who are paralyzed through us, but we can let Him heal our broken relationships. He might not be scourged in us, but He can prove victorious in our embarrassment. If we cooperate with His grace, neither failure, nor prison walls (Acts 5:17-26), nor even our own fears will prevent the Lord from being present to the world in and through us. 
Pray

Lord, enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness.

Do not let our poverty discourage us, but let it turn our hearts to trust in You alone.

Stretch forth Your hand to heal us and all those who are wounded.

Let our actions, words, and way of being make You present to all we meet.

In the power of Your Spirit, Father, let us faithfully witness to Your Son, both now and forever!

Amen.
Reflect
What fears keep me from being an effective witness to Jesus? What does Jesus want to share with me in response to my fears?

When have I experienced Christ’s presence through someone else? How has Jesus been present to others through me?

In what aspects of my faith do I experience “the inscrutable riches of Christ”? What about my faith do I love to share? What about my faith do I want to learn more?

Act

Jesus becomes present through the Apostles’ witness. This week, we encourage you to do the following:

  • Thank someone who has shared the Lord’s presence with you. Let them know how their word or action helped you experience Christ’s love, and lift them up in prayer!

  • Visit the Blessed Sacrament to thank Jesus for His Eucharistic presence. As St. John Paul II wrote, “The Church draws her life from the Eucharist.” It is by sharing in the Lord’s Body and Blood that we become His effective witnesses in the world.

  • Find a way to pray with someone in need this week. As Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
BIBLE STUDY
with Fr. Bill
and Sally

Click the link below to access the weekly parish bulletin. And, check out the Bible study video with Fr. Bill and Sally Flask, Assistant Director of Liturgy. Finally, the COVID prayer can be found below the video.


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Saint Pius X Catholic Parish, dedicated to renewing all things in Christ, is committed to evangelization through prayer, service, sacrificial giving, faith formation, and community.
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