In the reading from The Acts of the Apostles [3:13-15, 17-19] we learn that the Apostles continued to practice the ministry established by Jesus, namely one of preaching and teaching, and all in the name of Jesus. They went up to the Temple every day, a habit that would have made them known by the locals. Bystanders were amazed at the healing powers they demonstrated. The first verses of today’s chapter [3: 1-10] describe the healing of a man who had been crippled from birth, and such events attracted the crowds, and that presented Peter with the opportunity to preach to those who were interested enough to stop and listen.
Peter wasn’t backward in telling his listeners that they were responsible for condemning Jesus to death, and that was after Pilate had acquitted Jesus of any wrongdoing. They forced Pilate to change his mind which sealed Jesus’ death warrant. Peter asked them to repent for their actions, because in mitigation they had no idea of who it was they were condemning to death.
How often have any of us been in a similar situation? Not condemning people to death but agreeing with hearsay about someone because it’s easier to follow the mob rather than search for the truth. How often have any of us condemned people in the public eye because of some scurrilous report in a newspaper or on social media. How many of us have adopted a condemning attitude against someone simply because we didn’t like them.
Recently, the action of ‘lobbyists’ has been causing excitement in the political tribal lands of the country. The church has lobbyists -as do all religious denominations - to either defend the rights of people of faith or to challenge or dispute proposed acts of parliament which the church may consider amoral or immoral and which contravenes the natural law. The Church has a voice. The Hierarchy of the Bishops of England and Wales are the defenders of the faith in this context and have access to the Corridors of Power as do Catholic members of Parliament. All of us have access to the press to register our opinions on current events, political and religious.
In Scotland, a group of church leaders from various denominations, challenged the Scottish legislature over the closure of Scottish churches during the pandemic. The closure was designed to stop the spread of coronavirus. The action of closure was ruled illegal by a judicial review just as the churches were about to open again. That is what the law is for, that is why lobbyists are essential, to give voice, often to a silent majority.
Jesus had a strong voice. The Apostles had strong voices. Nothing stopped them from proclaiming the truth, even when the reward was death. Sitting in front of the television and criticising what we think is wrong with the country, or politics or the church, or any aspect of life, isn’t going to make our voices heard. For those with the courage and strength of conviction and the ability to air their views coherently, a direct involvement in politics is a most honourable course of social action. On the other hand, there are scores of societies and groups which cover every aspect of local and national life and avails most people of the opportunity to add their thoughts to the mix.
Google Catholic Newspapers and see the list of societies and groups which support Catholic action in scores of guises. Look up the Diocesan Web Site and directory; check the various religious congregations who would dearly love men, women and youngsters to help them. The opportunity to become involved in Catholic Action is vast. However few in number we may become over the next few years, the ability for us to express our faith in action is on our doorstep.
We will never be a silent Church, we shall be known by our actions and our desire to profess our faith by the way we live.