The readings from Acts of the Apostles are getting me pumped this Easter season. There are stories of so many holy men and women laying down their lives and standing up for the truth. As a Catholic, seeing our Church get off to that amazing start is really inspiring.
We’re in a time where our leaders and beliefs are under a lot of scrutiny. It’s not always a popular thing to stand up for the Gospel these days. However, it wasn’t easy to stand up for the Gospel back in the days of the Early Church, either.
It’s ironic because I think it should have been easier back then. I have to pull out scripture to show people what Jesus said and did. The Apostles just had to say “Guys, don’t you remember two weeks ago on the boat when Jesus said this and that?”
Either way, they’ve given us an incredible example of how to be courageous in the face or persecution. Take a couple of minutes and read Acts 4:1-20.
Okay, now you’ve witnessed some serious boldness. Peter and John were arrested for proclaiming that Jesus is Lord and that He resurrected from the dead. People were starting to believe! Since the chief leaders at the time did not like this, they ordered them never to speak of Jesus again.
Their response was simple, “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).
With this example of holy boldness, in what ways do you think God is calling you to ‘speak of what you’ve seen and heard’? How do the stories of the Apostles encourage you in your faith?
Nowadays, most of us know about the way the Apostles lived. However not everyone knows how the Apostles died.
Did you know that Matthew was killed by a sword and Luke was hanged? Did you know that Mark was killed by being dragged through the streets by horses and Peter was crucified upside down? Did you know that Bartholomew was flayed to death by whips and James was beheaded?
Now, I don’t recall these facts to be morbid or to scare you! I share them because these men gave everything they had to preach the Gospel. Most of them were killed on mission trips. We have so much to learn from the way these men lived and the way they died.
Brothers and sisters, dying is an essential part of Christian life. I pray that you learn how to die to yourself, and let Christ live fully in you. This way you may echo the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
When we give everything over to God and die to our sinful desires to choose virtue, grace abounds. We take a step further in walking the way of Christ. We continue taking part in Jesus’ mission of redemption and new life.
I hope that each day you live, you learn more about how to die.