Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter
(Acts 22:30.23:6-11; John 17:22-26)
Often when feeling criticized, we go on the offensive. We search for impressive words to show off our wit and to put down the critics. Surely this is a questionable strategy. We would do better to listen carefully to what others are saying, pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance, and speak forthrightly what comes to mind. Jesus tells us to do as much when he says, “'When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.’” In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Paul follows Jesus’ advice.
Paul is being held prisoner for allegedly starting a riot. The crowds want to kill him, and the Roman officer does not know what to do with him. Paul evaluates the crowd, sees a mixture of Pharisees and Sadducees in it, and speaks to it with ingenuity. His reference to being a proponent of the resurrection of the dead divides his persecutors. What starts as an attempt to kill Paul turns into a debate over the possibility of rising from the dead.
The Holy Spirit is the driving force behind this and all apostolic activity in Acts of the Apostles. It brings Christianity from its humble origins in Jerusalem to the corners of the whole world. The Holy Spirit remains as God’s eternal presence in our lives. The Spirit enlightens our minds and orders our wills so that we too might bring the light of Christ to the world.