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The Everyday Prayer

printable version

Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Memorial of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 5,27-33

When they had brought them in to face the Sanhedrin, the high priest demanded an explanation. 'We gave you a strong warning', he said, 'not to preach in this name, and what have you done? You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and seem determined to fix the guilt for this man's death on us.' In reply Peter and the apostles said, 'Obedience to God comes before obedience to men; it was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, whom you executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and Saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.' This so infuriated them that they wanted to put them to death.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The apostles are led back into the Sanhedrin before the leaders of the people. This time it is not just Peter and John who are dragged into court, but all the apostles. It is the entire Church that is being accused. Their reprimand is based on the fact that the apostles did not obey the order given by the leaders of the people not to preach the Gospel any more: "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name." The high priest, who, perhaps out of fear does not even speak Jesus’ name, nonetheless wants to stop the growth of the community. In fact, esteem for this new group of believers was spreading among the people, and many were coming to take part in it. The apostles’ response to the accusation made by the Sanhedrin is unanimous and firm. Luke emphasizes the fact that "Peter and the apostles" answered together. And this time Peter does not submit to the Sanhedrin’s judgment the problem of whether it is right to obey humans rather than God. Instead, concisely and without hesitation, he says, "We must obey God rather than any human authority." We could say that it is the entire Christian community that expresses itself with these words before the Sanhedrin. In fact, in the Christian community it is the Spirit that guides and authorizes the communication of the Gospel to the entire city. The words spoken by Peter - and by all the apostles with him - are a summary of the mystery of salvation brought by Jesus to all men and women. This passage emphasizes the fact that Jesus was raised up to the right hand of God and now wields his saving power for all, with no one excluded. It was on account of this mystery of salvation that he came down to earth, and they, the apostles, are witnesses because of the Holy Spirit that has been poured out in their hearts. Unlike the apostles, who act freely and with strength of spirit because they are moved by the spirit, the members of the Sanhedrin, who are moved by jealously at what they see happening, react abruptly: "they were enraged and wanted to kill them." Only the intervention of Gamaliel, as is told in the next part of the text - keeps them from doing so. But clearly it is impossible to stop the Word of God.

Memory of the Church