Thursday, May 12, 2016

Easter Weekday - Thursday 12th May 2016: reading: Acts 22:30, 23:6-11

Moving house is very high on most people's list of major life stresses, but so too is public speaking. Most of us would run a mile from having to speak before a large audience. Some are gifted in this area and despite suffering from a degree of nerves are able to pull it off. Such people, however, are not the norm: it is more common to be terrified at this prospect.

Although we tend to think that Paul was one of those who found speaking in public easier than most, the Acts of the Apostles reveals that he, rather like us all, needed God's courage. We know this because on the occasion recorded in today's passage the Spirit encouraged him with the words:  "Take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome"[v.11]. God knew that for Paul to testify in front of the hostile Sanhedrin needed great courage and conviction.
God also knows that whenever we are called to witness or testify for our faith, it takes great courage and conviction. In such situations we don't need to rely on our own words but rather the wisdom of the Spirit, although this requires both faith and courage. Blessed Charles de Foucauld said "One of the things we absolutely owe to Our Lord is never to be afraid". But of course, we often are and in realizing this we are humbled. What is it we are afraid of? Of being laughed at, mocked, ridiculed, ostracized or, worse, the cold draft of indifference. 
In one sense we don't need to defend our faith - our faith is big enough to stand up for itself. What we do need to do is to be willing to share the reason for the hope we have. We simply need to share sincerely and with conviction what God means to us and how grateful we are to have him in our life. But there is no getting around the fact that it takes courage to take a stand for what we believe. Nevertheless, something not often realized is that people are crying out to hear the gospel, and they respond when it is presented with goodness and love in our heart.
    " Do not be held back by doubts or fears. Say yes with courage and without reserve.....[St Pope John Paul 11] 
[Taken from Bible alive]  

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