Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter
The late Paul Harvey, a popular radio newscaster, would often add a final surprising piece of information to his program. He would then end by saying: “And there you have the rest of the story.” This saying comes to mind in reflecting on our liturgical readings today.
In the first reading, St. Paul is reminding the Jews how Jesus had walked among them, teaching and performing acts of kindness that fit the pattern of the promised Messiah. It should have been obvious to any Jew fully alert to their heritage, but in fact, they crucified Jesus. After three days Jesus rose from the dead and sent his risen Spirit to remain with those who continued to believe and witness to Him.
This is the core message of the reading, but listen to the “rest of the story.” How could Paul of Tarsus be saying these things with such conviction? As a young Pharisee Paul was fully determined to stamp out anyone who followed Jesus and threatened the Jewish law. But then Paul had a vision and an experience that turned his life around. He met Jesus. All the burning passion to destroy what he thought was a threat to the law was powerfully changed to the burning passion of witnessing to the person of Jesus as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.
Was this just a quirk of Church history or a living answer even today for anyone who has a desperate need to find order and purpose in their life? To know the person of Jesus, the Way, is the first step to dealing with what seems insurmountable. St. Paul found Jesus but he also found faithful witnesses who supported his dramatic turnaround.
Reflection: Can we pray for the strength to witness as Christians in a blind and secular world?
Reflection by Fr. Daniel Petsche, OSB