Last Sunday, our first reading (Acts 2) featured what is called the kerygma – the first proclamation – of the apostles, in particular, by St Peter, the head and spokesman of the 12.

The kerygma is simple and short:

“Jesus is risen from the dead!”

“Gods’ love is given to us through the Cross and Resurrection!”

“God loves you in his Son Jesus Christ!”

It is something we need to hear over and over again, especially as many of us are still recovering from the turmoil of the recent pandemic, or personal problems, or whatever troubles that occupy our mind and heart today.

Though plain and uncomplicated, the message of the first proclamation is fresh, powerful and encouraging. How many people smile when we say, write or text to them: God bless you! or God loves you!

St. Mother Teresa always ended her letters with those words because she believed everybody needs a blessing; everybody appreciates a blessing. Why don’t we do that every time we send out a written message or when we speak to our neighbor? What difference it truly makes to how a person perceives his day when he receives a simple reminder of love and hope!

Today’s first reading continues the sermon of Peter (Acts 2:14a, 36-41). He proclaims the Crucified one as both Lord and Christ. What does that mean? For the early Christians to say that Jesus is “Lord” meant that he was victorious over death. Only the Father was addressed Lord in Israel, but now, Jesus is Lord together with his Father!

And to say Christ meant that Jesus was the Messiah, the Anointed One, the one who will save his people – not in a political way – but in a deeper way: from sin and death!

But the first proclamation, this simple message, this profound greeting is not just a blessing to those who hear it. Deeper than that, it is actually a challenge, an invitation, a wake-up call.

We are called to respond to these words with openness of heart ready to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior; we must hand over to him the keys that unlock the obedience, devotion, and fidelity of our lives.

“Repent and be baptized.” – this is the challenge of the Resurrection of Jesus. To receive his offer of new life, to be forgiven, to be filled with the Holy Spirit… then we must leave behind our past life and be baptized. Most of us have already been baptized as infants. Do we really know what it means to be called a Christian today, a follower of Christ?

The Gospel today speaks of Jesus as the “gate.” To be truly saved, we cannot just stay outside and look; we cannot just remain standing and waiting; we must enter the gate to partake of his promises and his power! This means, we need a growing, deepening relationship with the Lord that makes us receptive to him and more loving and just to our neighbor.

It is sad that, in the last pandemic scare of the corona virus, many so-called Christians led the panic-buying, spreading of fake-news, corruption in distribution of needed help, discrimination against the sick and the medical frontliners, profiteering… and many other acts of greed and hatred. Is this the response to Jesus’ love? Is this the assent to his invitation? Is this the way to receive his blessing?

We ask the Lord for the grace to know with conviction how much we are loved through his Death and Resurrection. We ask furthermore, for the grace to truly give our hearts to him so that we can be transformed into the new men and women of the Kingdom.