Moving from fearful to fearless
Boldness. It is perhaps in this quality that we see the most dramatic transformation of the
apostles after they received the Holy Spirit. Brought into custody, the apostles stood before the temple elders, scribes, and high priests and courageously spoke the truth of the Resurrection. Peter asserted: “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” (Acts 4:12). Scripture tells us that the leaders were amazed at these “uneducated, ordinary men” (Acts 4:13).
Instructed again not to continue their preaching, Peter and John stated simply: “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).
These are the same men who had gathered in the upper room after Jesus’ death, cowering in fear. What on earth happened to them? Well, nothing from earth — but certainly something from heaven: the Holy Spirit.
From the Word
“‘Lord … enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness, as you stretch forth [your] hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts
■ What were the apostles like just after the crucifixion? ( frightened, anxious)
■ What changed to inspire in them such bold, confident words and actions? (They received the Holy Spirit!)
■ What was the result of their bold words for the early Church? (dramatic growth)
■ Are their actions still affecting us today? (Yes! All of us who believe in Jesus today have the early Christians to thank.)
1. When were you bold? Write on cards a series of questions about times of boldness in students’ lives: When did you try a new activity? What new food have you tasted? When did you say hello to a new person in class? Each student draws a card and answers the question aloud. Acknowledge their “feats” with applause and a treat or a medal!
2. Hard to keep good news quiet? Fill a box with party treats and cover the box. Choose several students to look inside, with one instruction: They cannot tell the other students what is in there until the end of class. Later, allow them to open the box together and have a fun celebration. Ask the “in-theknow” students if it was difficult not to shout out about the “good news” in the box. Help them to see how it would have been impossible for the apostles to keep quiet about the good news of Jesus!
After receiving the Holy Spirit, the new boldness of the apostles would give birth to a
new crop of believers. Acts 4:4 tells us that “many of those who heard the word came to believe and [the] number of men grew to [about] five thousand.” The fruits of the Spirit were clear: More souls were being won for the kingdom — and the Church was off and running.
Lynn Wehner is a Catholic writer, editor, speaker, and catechist who lives with her husband and their children in Connecticut.
This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, November/December 2018.