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Kerygma – Proclamation

by Apr 1, 2024Friar Reflection

In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and the Eleven proclaim the kerygma, the mystery of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.  They first heard this Good News from the women returning from the empty tomb.  When Mary Magdalene and the others first discovered the empty tomb, they were “fearful yet overjoyed” as we hear in today’s Gospel.  When Jesus met “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” he sent them to preach the kerygma, the Easter message of resurrection: “Do not be afraid.  Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Today’s reading from Acts gives Peter’s speech at Pentecost.  It is the first of five of his speeches.  These speeches contain the early kerygma, the proclamation of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Savior of the world.  As we have heard in the Passion Accounts on Palm Sunday and Good Friday, Jesus was handed over by some Jewish leaders and condemned to death by Pilate, even though he judged him innocent.  Peter proclaims the kerygma in these words:

“This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.  But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death…”

In another speech Peter will acknowledge that the Jews did this in ignorance of the identity of Jesus: “Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did… (Acts 3:18; 13:27).  These words are important for us to remember as we celebrate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus particularly today with the sinful resurgence of antisemitism in our country and in the world.  As Pope Francis has said numerous times violence and killing in the name of God is blasphemy.  The US bishops give us this reminder:

“The passion narratives are proclaimed in full so that all see vividly the love of Christ for each person.  In light of this, the crimes during the Passion of Christ cannot be attributed, in either preaching or catechesis, indiscriminately to all Jews of that time, nor to Jews today.  The Jewish people should not be referred to as though rejected or cursed, as if this view followed from Scripture. The Church ever keeps in mind that Jesus, his mother Mary, and the apostles all were Jewish.  As the Church has always held, Christ freely suffered his passion and death because of the sins of all, that all might be saved.” (Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops).

Image: “”St. Peter Preaching in Jerusalem LACMA M.81.73″ by Fæ is licensed under CC BY 2.0.