“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The book of Acts picks up where the gospel of Luke leaves off. Attributed to the same author, it is the continuation of the story, and it begins with a final visit from Jesus to the disciples. His closing words are both a charge and a promise–“YOU have to carry the banner now, but you will not carry it alone. The Holy Spirit will empower you.”
It’s not long before we begin to see amazing things taking place. Starting at Pentecost, these apostles who just weeks earlier had scattered and fled in fear at Jesus’ crucifixion can be found boldly proclaiming the Message. They suddenly have a keen sense of timing, seizing opportune moments to present the gospel in such a way that it draws an enormous response. Their bold actions recorded in these early chapters of Acts are the evidence that the Holy Spirit is indeed at work, using ordinary people to bring about the beginning of Christ’s church. At the center of several scenes in today’s reading is Peter–remember, the one who denied even knowing Jesus on the night that he died. Something extraordinary has certainly taken hold of him as he takes the lead in a movement that will not cower to the religious authorities.
Today, we see that the witnessing has begun in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, just as Jesus said. . .and it’s about to go on the move to the ends of the earth.