17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,
18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.
The chief priests thought that their problems had been solved when Jesus was crucified. They were wrong! Now they had all the apostles preaching and teaching as Jesus did.
The news had spread beyond Jerusalem and people were coming in from the surrounding cities with their sick. What especially angered the Sadducees was their preaching about the resurrection. The Sadducees taught that there was no life after death. (The Pharisees believed in an afterlife.)
As we’ve discussed before, jealousy is a dangerous emotion. They had the apostles arrested but an angel of the Lord appeared and opened the doors so that they could go back to the temple courtyard and continue to preach. Imagine their shock when they sent the guards back to get them and they found the doors still locked but the apostles gone. They arrested them again. The chief priest was afraid of losing control over the people.
In today’s world, there are still people who are willing to speak out against injustice and to speak words of encouragement to those who have been discriminated against. I think in particular of the movement in the sixties to allow those who were black in the southern United States to vote. Many of these workers were jailed and beaten only to go right back to working for justice. Nelson Mandela in South Africa was arrested and spent years in jail for his efforts to end apartheid.
I’m sure you can name others who were not afraid of the consequences. Missionaries in Africa, Central America and South America who preach the Gospel of love have also been persecuted and killed. The most notable of these is Oscar Romero killed by government police while he was saying Mass.
May we continue to work to spread the Good News as well, knowing that there will be those who will fear the message of love and equality.
Lord, your word and your work will continue to spread in spite of those who work against you. May we be witness of your message in spite of the dangers. Amen.