CHURCH MILITANT OR CHURCH DEFEATED?

Reading 1 ACTS 4:23-31
After their release Peter and John went back to their own people

and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them.

And when they heard it,

they raised their voices to God with one accord

and said, “Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth

and the sea and all that is in them,

you said by the Holy Spirit

through the mouth of our father David, your servant:
Why did the Gentiles rage

and the peoples entertain folly?

The kings of the earth took their stand

and the princes gathered together

against the Lord and against his anointed.
Indeed they gathered in this city

against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed,

Herod and Pontius Pilate,

together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,

to do what your hand and your will

had long ago planned to take place.

And now, Lord, take note of their threats,

and enable your servants to speak your word

with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal,

and signs and wonders are done

through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook,

and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Responsorial Psalm PS 2:1-3, 4-7A, 7B-9
R. (see 11d) Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.

or:

R. Alleluia.

Why do the nations rage

and the peoples utter folly?

The kings of the earth rise up,

and the princes conspire together

against the LORD and against his anointed:

“Let us break their fetters

and cast their bonds from us!”

R. Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.

or:

R. Alleluia.

He who is throned in heaven laughs;

the LORD derides them.

Then in anger he speaks to them;

he terrifies them in his wrath:

“I myself have set up my king

on Zion, my holy mountain.”

I will proclaim the decree of the LORD.

R. Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.

or:

R. Alleluia.

The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;

this day I have begotten you.

Ask of me and I will give you

the nations for an inheritance

and the ends of the earth for your possession.

You shall rule them with an iron rod;

you shall shatter them like an earthen dish.”

R. Blessed are all who take refuge in the Lord.

or:

R. Alleluia.

Alleluia COL 3:1
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

If then you were raised with Christ,

seek what is above,

where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 3:1-8
There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

He came to Jesus at night and said to him,

“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God,

for no one can do these signs that you are doing

unless God is with him.”

Jesus answered and said to him,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

unless one is born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” 

Nicodemus said to him,

“How can a man once grown old be born again?

Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”

Jesus answered,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

unless one is born of water and Spirit

he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

What is born of flesh is flesh

and what is born of spirit is spirit.

Do not be amazed that I told you,

‘You must be born from above.’

The wind blows where it wills,

and you can hear the sound it makes,

but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;

so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

REFLECTION: CHURCH MILITANT OR CHURCH DEFEATED?

“They were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s word with confidence.” –Acts 4:31
The apostles were thrown into prison by the Jewish leaders for healing a crippled man and then “teaching the people and proclaiming the resurrection of the dead in the person of Jesus” (Acts 4:2). They were then threatened by the leaders to never mention the name of Jesus again (Acts 4:17) and were released. The apostles returned to the other disciples and prayed for complete assurance when they proclaimed the Word of God (Acts 4:29-30). After this prayer, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They continued to speak God’s Word with confidence (Acts 4:31).
Like the first believers in the risen Jesus, we must not be alarmed that the powerful of the world rage and conspire against us (see Acts 4:25). The Church and its members have been attacked for centuries. God in heaven simply laughs (Ps 2:4). He has eternal, almighty power. The powerful of the world wield their power for but a moment in time.
Therefore, we must pray for that same confidence, assurance, and boldness that the apostles possessed. God wants us to confidently know that if He is for us, no one can be against us (Rm 8:31). “He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jn 4:4, RSV-CE). We are more than conquerors in Jesus (Rm 8:37). Persevere in spreading the Word of God. We are invincible when we are rooted in Jesus and stand securely in the center of His will.
PRAYER: May we stir up the Holy Spirit in the world, Lord Jesus. Raise up many teenagers and adults to accept holy, confident, and bold religious vocations and to speak God’s Word with confidence.

PROMISE: “No one can enter into God’s kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit.” –Jn 3:5

PRAISE: St. Fidelis devoted himself to frequent prayer after the Lord revealed to him that he would be martyred.

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