Today’s first reading is one of the most exciting readings of the New Testament for me. And it’s the angel of the Lord, the Lord’s messenger, who puts it all into crystal clear focus. The angel opens the prison doors as if they weren’t even locked and says to the imprisoned disciples, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” Two things stand out in that for me.
First of all, the angel says “Go and take your place…” The disciples weren’t created for life in prison, they weren’t created for obscurity in their old lives from before they met Jesus. They were created for ministry, and their place was in the temple area, preaching what they had come to know and believe.
Second, the angel tells them to “tell the people everything about this life.” I love those words: “this life” – faith in Jesus wasn’t just a pastime, diversion or sport. It was their very life – it was everything they were and were created for.
I think people today get this wrong a lot. The parish where I was before this one hosted a pretty successful football league for elementary and junior high school boys. You couldn’t live in Naperville and not have heard of St. Raphael Football. The interesting thing was that when I would be talking to people socially, I would often hear things like, “Oh yes, we go to St. Raphael’s – our sons are on the football team.” I tried to find a way to tell them politely that we celebrated Mass there too.
The point is that we were created to live our faith, and not just observe it as a pastime, or try to practice it whenever our schedule isn’t too hectic. We were created to be people who tell others everything about this life that we live, this life of faith in Jesus Christ. Our faith is the only permanent thing that we have in this life, the only thing that we have now that we’ll also have in eternity. And we have to make sure that everyone knows how important that is.