“Wicked men obey from fear; good men, from love.” ~ Augustine
Those who attend Mass this morning will hear a selection from the Acts of the Apostles. In the reading, the Apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin. The Apostles were reminded that the Sanhedrin brought them in at an earlier time for interrogation, had them flogged, and ordered them not to speak about Jesus. The Apostles continued to proclaim the Good News. Thus, they were brought in and questioned by the Sanhedrin again. Peter responded, “We must obey God rather than men.”
The Sanhedrin believed that the Apostles would quit talking about Jesus because they had been beaten and would fear further abuse. But Peter spoke to the concept of obedience. The Apostles would not obey the Sanhedrin even though afraid because they had chosen to obey the Lord who called them to proclaim the Good News to the ends of the earth.
Fear is a great motivator. However, fear usually begets many things negative. Hatred, violence, misunderstanding, and the refusal to forgive are all are all products of fear. Love, on the other hand, is a even greater motivator. Love begets many things positive. Harmony, good will, understanding, and forgiveness all flow from love.
The Apostles knew this. They had seen it in the person of Jesus over and over again throughout Jesus’ ministry while still among them. Therefore, after His death and resurrection, when Jesus commissioned the Apostles to proclaim the Good News, they knew whom they would obey. They would not obey the fear generated by their enemies. Rather, they would obey their loving God.
We live in a world that can be as brutal and violent as the world of the Apostles’ time. We, too, are often confronted for being believers of Jesus Christ. The world tells us to stop speaking about Jesus. It threatens us, it hurts us, it does everything it can to stop us. What it cannot do is force us. Jesus has given us a free will and He gives us the grace that we need to do His will if we so choose.
Let not the world wear you down or hold you down. Go out and speak about God’s great love for you and for all people. Let them know that they have no need to fear if they choose to follow Christ. He will give them all that they need.
FAITH ACTION: Ask God for the love and humility that you need to be obedient to Him rather than to the world.