How many of you have been ridiculed for practicing your Catholic faith? Perhaps comments were made when you were at a cocktail party or some other social gathering. Maybe the comments were made in jest, but the kind of jest where you could sense a seriousness in what was being said.
And perhaps your response was rather on the wishy-washy side, not really speaking with conviction, because you felt a little uncomfortable with the situation, and being put on the spot. Perhaps you’ve never really thought about it before—it’s just something that you were taught to do and have always done. The situations vary with each of us.
I mention this today (this evening) as a way of trying to consider the situation that’s described for us in the reading from Acts. Imagine that kind of a confrontation! They weren’t at a cocktail party having a conversation with friends. They knew that their response to the command to stop teaching about Jesus—the words: We must obey God rather than men— would eventually mean their death. But by this point in their experience of their faith the apostles were that convinced. They were willing to die for their faith.
We like to think that we live in a more sophisticated society than that of ancient times. But we have seen that modern times—and current times—is just as barbaric in certain ways.
Yet, sharing the faith is always the command of Jesus when someone has accepted it themselves. Once you say you believe, you must share the gift with others. And that’s what we see happening in the exchange between Christ and Peter. Some see this as the cancellation of the three denials of Christ that occurred in the Passion story the night before Jesus died. And Jesus lets Peter know that he will have to give his life for his faith.
So, we need remember the great faith of the apostles, and the saints and all who have gone before us. They were willing to give their lives rather than to deny who Jesus was. We might say to ourselves that we are not there yet. And, God willing, that extreme a circumstance will never happen. But we have to stop just dabbling or staying on the edge. We need to jump in and make this life of following Christ the reason for our existence. We want to have the conviction to be able to say: We must obey God rather than men.