Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Easter:
“When they heard this, they were cut to the heart.“
Life offers ample opportunities for heartbreak. Tragedy befalls families, communities, and countries. Natural disasters, and the effects of environmental degradation and climate change, often seem to strike the poorest of the poor. Mental health suffers and sometimes snaps. Marriages fall apart. People, even family and friends, disappoint us. Woundedness seems built into the nature of reality: there’s always a fly in the ointment, always a rub, always a bit more salt for the wounds we carry.
So for a conversion experience to be more than just a passing phase or momentary burst of emotional catharsis, it needs to address the deep suffering we experience. To do so, any true conversion will “cut to the heart,” as Peter’s preaching did.
His audience would have been familiar with crucifixions. They were the most ghastly and horrendous form of punishment at the hands of the Romans, who used the suffering of the crucified ones to quell rebellion and terrorize the populace into submission. A crucified Christ becomes even more shocking in this context: Imagine Christ killed in a torture chamber or executed by lethal injection. Imagine Christ dead at the border or the victim of gun violence.
Now we’re getting closer to the scandal of our salvation in its context. Now we can see why the people in Acts were “cut to the heart.”
If only we would allow ourselves to be so wounded for Christ.
From the April 2023 issue of Give Us This Day, www.giveusthisday.org (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2023). Used with permission.
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Powerful words and insight. Thank you!
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