Whenever evil is committed in the name of some religion, we’re told to conclude that all religions are essentially the same. Religion serves only to divide us and to spread messages of fear and hatred.
But the Gospel is GOOD news. It is life-giving. We see this in today’s first reading:
“Leaders of the people and elders:
If we are being examined today
about a good deed done to a cripple,
namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.
There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”
Jesus was murdered. He was killed in the name of pride masquerading as religious piety. The religious leaders were afraid to arrest Him in broad daylight because they were afraid they’d have an angry mob on their hands, so they did it under the cover of night. They were threatened by Jesus’ following, so they sought to stamp out this “Jesus thing” by killing Jesus and thereby silencing His followers once and for all. They put guards at the tomb because they were afraid His followers would try to pull one over on them.
But Jesus rose anyway.
He came back to life–can you imagine the civil war that could have sprung from this event?
Yet the Apostles do not retaliate evil for evil. The Gospel is not spread through fear and intimidation. Jesus’ followers do not go around killing in His name.
They go about healing in the name of Jesus. They go about preaching a Gospel of LIFE.
And this wasn’t just some clever “PR-strategy,” by the way. The apostles weren’t going around preaching a gospel of “can’t we all just get along?” They were healing and preaching eternal life in the name of Jesus Christ. And for that last bit, they were threatened, tortured, and killed.
It’s a pretty hard sell actually, “Join our religion! Heal the blind! Make the lame walk! –And be killed for it!”
Yet they went about healing and spreading life anyway, because that is who our God is. That is who Jesus is. The apostles were compelled to tell the world that the God who created us calls us to newness of life.
It is Jesus who heals. It is Jesus who gives life.
There is no salvation through anyone else–that is not a threat, it is simply the truth. And it is GOOD NEWS!