Cut to the Heart

Taken from Catholic Exchange
by Dr. Mark Giszczak

Cut to the Heart

May 11, 2014

Fourth Sunday of Easter

First Reading: Acts 2:14a, 36-41


Sometimes when you hear a great speaker, you wish you could grab his message, put it in a package and bring it home with you. We even talk of a “take home message,” being the three or four points that the speaker hopes you’ll remember. We can’t remember everything, and even if we record a speech on a digital voice recorder, we still can’t keep it in our heads all the time. So…if a message powerfully impacts us, what can we do? How can we respond? In this Sunday’s reading from Acts, St. Peter gives us the answer.


This Sunday’s reading might sound like the beginning of St. Peter’s Pentecost speech, but it is actually the end. The Lectionary borrows the opening narrator’s comment to set the stage. Here Peter is cashing in the results of his scriptural argument from Joel 3 and Psalm 16 to his fellow devout Jews. He has argued that the Holy Spirit has arrived to fulfill God’s promises, that Jesus was raised from the dead in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and the concluding thesis of his speech is that God has made Jesus “both Lord and Christ.” These two terms each deserve an in-depth explanation.


Kurios can simply mean “lord” or “sir,” but here I think it brims with deeper connotations. First and foremost, it is a word for God. In fact, this word, kurios is used to translate the unpronounceable name of God in the Greek Old Testament. YHWH is translated as kurios. By saying that God made Jesus kurios, Peter is not saying that God merely granted him an extra-special title of nobility like “sir” or “duke,” but that Jesus is YHWH himself, the Lord. Secondly, kurios was a title of the Roman Emperor, the highest civil authority. While Peter is not claiming Jesus is a secular ruler, his authority does challenge (and trump) that of the pagan Roman Empire. Jesus’ kingdom will eventually triumph over all human authorities.

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