“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned…”
This is probably the most well known verse in the bible and for good reason. It is beautiful, filled with the Holy Spirit, and very healing. Why is it healing? Because many of us know what it is like to have others find fault with us, judge us and condemn us. If you have never had this experience, then you are very fortunate indeed. When other people find fault with us, or judge us though, we should remember God’s own son. They did the same thing to him. This is really something worth remembering, because Jesus was greatly misunderstood, misjudged and condemned too. Our little heart aches are nothing really, compared to his.
The bible repeatedly tells us that Jesus did not come into the world to judge it, but to save it. So, why do so many of us do this to one another? It is so easy to fall into this trap. Christ himself even told us to be careful about judging people, because by the same measuring stick we judge with, we will also be judged by.
People often have to go through processes in life, in order to find the truth for themselves and we need to let go of our need to control other people and allow them to learn their own lessons in life, without our judgement. We are not God. Some people feel the need to play God with other people’s life, but that isn’t right, because God Himself respects our freewill.
We do need to speak up for what is right, and what is wrong though. To fail to speak up against sin and evil is the same thing as tolerating it. But, we can’t control the outcome. Today’s gospel said that “people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.” God respects mankind’s choices and we must do the same.
The gospel goes on to say, “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.” People who are falsely accused of doing something wrong should remember this verse in scripture. It would be very comforting during those times we are misunderstood by others. God knows the truth about our lives, and deep down, we know the truth about ourselves too.
The Apostles were falsely accused of many things and then thrown in jail, much like Jesus himself was, in today’s first reading for mass. We need to remember this as well. Why do we expect to be treated any different than Jesus and his Apostles were? Yet we do. We want everyone to like us and think well of us. But, in our attempts to gain other people’s approval of us, we run the risk of compromising the truth, jeopardizing the gospel values that we live by, in order to not offend other people. That sure wasn’t the case with Christ’s Apostles today. They offended people so badly they were thrown in jail for it. They spoke the truth, irregardless of the consequences.
Wasn’t it awesome how an angel led Peter and the other Apostles out of jail though? The word of God could not be contained by locked doors and iron bars. The Apostles didn’t run from their persecutors though. They could have left the area and gone somewhere else to preach the gospel, but they did as the angel said and went to the temple area to preach the good news. They did exactly what the gospel reading today talked about:
“Whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”
What Peter and the Apostles were doing was in line with God’s will, so they were not afraid of what anyone thought of them, including the high priest and his companions who had them thrown in jail. They went to the people to teach them after their release from jail. Then, the Apostles willing and freely allowed the guards to bring them back to the chief priests, because they had total trust and confidence in their Lord, Jesus Christ. They had nothing to hide because they spoke the truth. Their confidence lay in the source of all truth.
We too, should trust in the Lord at all times. The worse the situation, the greater the trust we should have in him. If we live uprightly, and justly, in accordance with God’s will, then we have nothing to fear of anyone’s judgement of us. Human beings do not know the whole truth about any given situation. This is so clearly demonstrated in today’s first reading for mass today. The Apostles have shown us how to handle situations like this, to place our trust in Jesus Christ and leave the rest up to Him. In the end, he is all that matters anyway. Jesus’s opinion of us, and his judgement of our actions, is the only thing that will matter at the end of our lives. We should keep the voilital situations in our life in perspective, the same way the Apostles did in today’s first reading for mass. They are our mentors in how to follow Jesus, without fear.
Daily Mass Readings:
Acts 5: 17-26 / Ps 34 / Jn 3:16-21