Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
Once again we find ourselves at the completion of our Lenten journey and at the beginning of the fifty day festival we know of as the Easter Season. The first week of that season is known as Easter Week and is second only to Holy Week in the Church's liturgical calendar. Once again, all "dated" feasts will be transferred to next week for celebration as we spend eight days, an octave, considering the texts that bear witnesses to the developing faith of the early church. The Gospels for the next week will be the so-called "appearance" stories while the first reading will be taken from the kerygmatic preaching of Peter which we find in the opening chapters of the Acts of the Apostles.
The word "kerygma" is Greek for proclamation. The first sermons of the Acts of the Apostles are all kerygmatic in character. This kind of preaching appears early in the Gospels. To a certain extent, we can consider most of the words of John the Baptist in this vein although he does spend some time explaining things to those who ask questions of him. Jesus' first words in the synagogue of Capernaum were kerygmatic while his Sermon on the Mount (or on the Plain) was exegetical (explanatory). I think it would be safe to say that most of the preaching we hear today would be more exegetical than it is kerygmatic. We have heard the proclamation; we now spend more time trying to understand what it is that we proclaim.
It is doubtful that St. Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, would have heard Peter's Pentecost proclamation. St. Luke was a Gentile, and it is very obvious that the first to hear the proclamations of the apostles were Jews. So St. Luke's accounts of these sermons or proclamations were probably composed based upon what he had heard before his conversion to Christianity. This is evident from one particular line early in the proclamation. St. Peter is quoted as saying: This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. (Acts 2:23) It would have been years after Jesus' return to the Father before the community would have come to the realization that all that happened in Jesus' passion, death and resurrection was part of God's plan of salvation. Indeed, perhaps one of the most difficult realizations the Church ever came to was the fact that God would have actually asked such a shameful death of His Son.
Today, we continue to proclaim that Christ has risen from the dead. We make that bold proclamation by leading lives grounded in the hope that we too will one day share in that resurrection. Through the various social media available to us, we were able to hear the Easter preaching of our newly elected Pope Francis. I was captured by his words as he asked us all to renew our hope despite the sometimes dark and terrible days we encounter today. We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song. May we be a source of encouragement to others as they come to know us as a people of hope.