"Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, the leaders, elders, and scribes were amazed...." - Acts 4:13
"When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe." - Mark 16:11
"They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either." - Mark 16: 13
Today's readings strike the part of me that struggles with disbelief. In this Easter season, the time after Lent, I find myself quickly leaving behind what God was slowly revealing to me during Lent. As crazy as it may seem, Lent is probably my favorite season. I know what to expect during Lent. I have a forcing function to stay disciplined and in many ways find myself more open to God because it is the time period when "things are supposed" to happen. But during the rest of the year, including now, I struggle to keep my discipline, my focus and attentiveness towards God. I find myself acting like the elders and the disciples in today's readings.
The elders were amazed and became fearful after observing the boldness of Peter and John. I find that boldness either inspires me or makes me fearful. Causes me to expand myself or causes me to shrink. Imagining myself in the crowd, I think that the boldness of Peter and John would cause me to grow, to risk, to believe. But there are so many instances where I act like the elders - I shrink in response to boldness. Is this because it is beyond anything I expected and this change is unwelcome? Is it because it causes me to feel like I am not good enough, that what I thought was true, was right, was worthwhile isn't the whole picture and therefore causes me to question everything?
The disciples found themselves in a state of mourning after Jesus' crucifixion. I can imagine being in their shoes and thinking "what do we do now"? In times such as these I find it very easy to become self focused on our loss, our pain, our unknown future just as they seem to have been. In doing so we can become blind to healing that surrounds us, to new hope that surfaces in many forms. Was the disciples' disbelief caused by their inward focused perspective? Was it caused by the sheer misalignment with what they knew and what they expected?
All of these questions bring me to reflect on my own belief and my own willingness to expand in the face of boldness, to believe in the face of unexpected occurrences, and to be attentive to those things outside of myself. Am I open to this? Am I blind to God's presence and action in my life?
Just as Jesus continually appears to the disciples, perhaps God is continually calling us, revealing himself to us, inspiring us if only we soften our hearts enough to hear him, see him, feel him.
Lord help us to refocus our attention to be open to your call at all times and in all forms, even when we least expect it.
Reflected by Joan Ervin