As I read the first reading this morning, I couldn't help but think to myself, "wow, the apostles are so bad ass!"
They recently watched their beloved teacher and friend die an excruciating death (literally - "excruciating" means "from the cross") and now they are out in the open, boldly teaching in Jesus' name. So the Sadducees throw them in jail. But an angel comes and lets them out and tells them to go back into the ring, and they do! The apostles are not naive...they saw what the Jewish leaders are capable of. But that doesn't stop them from going right back to what they were doing. I was in awe at their courage.
And despite the fact that no one can explain to the Sadducees how the apostles escaped while the door was locked and the guards were there, they still refuse to believe. I want to say, "come on! How can you be so blind!" But these men had hardened their hearts. And this is what we see in the Gospel, which profoundly tells us, "the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light". Jesus came proclaiming their salvation and fulfilling the ancient prophesies they had clung to, and they wanted none of it. Jesus shed light on the error of their ways and they did not like it. They preferred to live in their sin and extinguish the light that exposed them for who they really were.
Is there any difference in our world today? Is the world not full of people who reject Truth? People in every country and of every age elect evil - knowing deep down it is evil - and attack anyone that makes them feel bad about it. And if you know how cognitive dissonance works, then you know the next step: they strive to build a world around them where the bad they espouse is normal, acceptable, and even good. This makes them feel comfortable with their lives.
But here's the good news - if the evil of Jesus' time is still present in ours, so is the power of the Holy Spirit that moved the apostles. That very same Holy Spirit that inspired the apostles to go right back into the fight without missing a beat is here to help us too! It's hard to imagine, but you and I, through the Spirit conferred on us in Baptism and Confirmation, could do things equally as bold! True, we will suffer persecution - let's not forget that all but one of Jesus' faithful apostles was martyred eventually. But their words have brought countless people to Christ for millennia, and will continue to do so. Through the Holy Spirit, they literally changed the world. And here is the real kicker - so can we!
Holy Spirit, make us bold! May we never stop bringing the light of Christ into the darkness, no matter what it throws at us.