In the reading from Acts, we see Peter and John immediately after they have been released from an interrogation by the chief priests and elders. The Jewish authorities had warned them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, but Peter and John responded “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” This was a daring reply to the authorities. Where did it come from? Certainly not from themselves. Remember only days ago Peter had been so afraid that he denied even knowing Jesus. Their new enthusiasm and fearless determination could only come from what they had seen and heard, Jesus raised from the dead and still with them.
This is one of the few instances in Acts where Luke reports what the disciples and the other believers prayed for in response to the opposition from the authorities. They prayed not to be safe from their enemies but for God to stretch forth his hand to heal them. They prayed to be able “to speak your word with boldness,” to have the power to continue to proclaim the risen Jesus in “signs and wonders” done in his name. They did not ask God to deliver them from their opponents; rather, their desire for boldness that was the result of knowing Jesus was still with them, filled them with his Spirit that literally shook the place where they were gathered.
Where is the Spirit in my life? Can God’s Spirit fill me, or do I need to get rid of some obstacles to make room for the Holy Spirit to fill my heart?
—Fr. Jim Riley, S.J., a veteran high school educator, is currently superior of the Jesuit community at St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland OH.