Acts 5:27-33; Psalm 34; John 3:31-36
The recurring theme of today’s reading is obedience, not to human authority BUT to the Son. Jesus said at the end of the Gospel reading today: whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath. Jesus lays it down plain and simple: believe in him and have eternal life, disobey him and deal with God’s wrath. With this, Jesus also defines what believing in him means: obeying him. When we obey him, we have eternal life. When we disobey, our life ends. When we disobey, we sin against God, we reject him.
Psalm 104:29 tells us: if you turn away your face, they shall be troubled. You shall take away their breath, and they shall fail, and shall return to their dust. You shall send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. The simple truth is when we reject God, he turns away from us and we will not have peace because by turning away from us, he takes away our life. It is never God’s will for us to die, because he is the God of life. But when we reject him, he respects that choice and turns away. Some may ask, but why would a loving God turn away from me? The answer is God loves us so much, he respects our free will. God will not do something for us, if we do not give him permission to do so. He will not enter our lives if we do not allow him. Before his Son entered creation, God had to ask a young girl for permission to do so. It was only when this young girl agreed, that the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and the Son entered her womb.
This is something many today do not understand. Many want peace, many want to go to heaven. But they do not want God in their life, in fact, a lot of them reject God. So how can they have peace or how can they have life when they reject the God of Peace and the God of Life?
The only way to have peace is to be reconciled with the God of Peace. The only way to have meaning in life is to be reconciled with the God of Life. God will not save us without our permission. Just like Mary, who gave permission to God to enter her womb, we must allow him to enter our lives. This happens when we turn back to him. Peter said in the First Reading: God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. Jesus is the Leader and Savior who forgives our sins. Peter continues in the First Reading: we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him. Repentance is not only confessing our sins. It is turning back to God AND obeying him, because it is only by obeying Jesus that we receive the Holy Spirit who gives life and renews our life just as he renews the face of the earth.
The Responsorial Psalm says: The Lord is near to the broken hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all. Are you broken hearted? Are you crushed in spirit? Are you troubled and overwhelmed by the current situation, worried perhaps of what will happen in the next few months or tomorrow!
The Lord is calling you, today to come to him and obey him. Open your heart to him because the Psalm today says, the Lord hears the cry of the poor. If you have given up hope, if there is nothing left for you, you are this poor, and the Lord hears your cry. Come to him and cry out to him. He hears you. He wants to give you new life. If today, you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.
Lord, my heart breaks. My spirit is crushed. I am overwhelmed. There is no one or nothing I can trust. In desperation, perhaps, I come to you. And I allow you to enter my life, even if I rejected you for a long time. I may not know you Lord, yet, I hold on to your Word. Show me who you are. I give you permission to take my life and renew it with your Holy Spirit. Forgive me my sins. I reject them in the name of Jesus. I want to follow you Lord. Show me the way.