Pentecost Day 9 // Peter, Prophets, & The Last Days

Acts 2:14-20

In today’s scripture Peter is taking on his role as leader of the twelve once more. This is the first speech he gives to the disciples dealing with the resurrection of Jesus and its messianic significance. The other five discourses can be found in Acts 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:29-32; 10:34-43; 13:16-41. Modern scholars term these discourses in Acts the ‘kerygma,’ the Greek word for proclamation (” If we transport ourselves back in time to the audience being spoken to, we can hear Peter roaring above the buzzing Jewish crowd.  With his raised voice he says, “These people are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No….” I wonder if he was indignant with this accusation. Personally, I’m not always patient with things like this (working on it). Knowing myself, I would look with displeasure at the ones who said that with my “eyebrow lift” (as my students call it). I digress. Either way, Peter is defending the reputation of his brothers and sisters in Christ against slander. He quotes from the Book of the prophet Joel saying that, “‘it will come to pass in the last days…that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams…I will work wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below….’ (V.17-19).” 

I want to focus on the word prophesy here. What is it? A prophet is a spokesman for God, chosen by God to speak to people on His behalf. They convey a teaching or message from Him. Prophets were role models of holiness and they set the standards for the entire community. We are ALL called to be prophets. So prophesy is speaking God’s message to His people. Simple enough. In this case, you are called to be a prophetess! There are several woman prophets in the Old Testament. To name a few in no particular order: Esther, Abigail, Sarah, Miriam, and Deborah. When we interpret this scripture passage in a spiritual sense we see Peter taking on a role as prophet. 

Finally, Peter says that these are the ‘last days.’ Now, what does that mean? Does he mean last days as in Jesus is coming back NOW to sift the wheat? As in some people will be cast into the flames and others taken up to heaven? Whenever I hear these two words I remember the popular protestant “Left Behind” book series about the rapture. It sounds terrifying! Have you ever seen the movie? Scary. (P.S. as Catholics we don’t believe in this ‘rapture’ teaching. A great book to read if you’re interested in this topic is, “Will Catholics be Left Behind? written by Carl Olson).

Reflection: Let’s not be afraid when we hear Peter talk about the last days, because guess what? We have been in the last days ever since the Church began. The last days usher in the Kingdom of God on earth, so thank you Jesus! Come Holy Spirit and bring your Kingdom! Instead of getting anxious about blood red moons and suns turning into darkness, let’s live each day like it’s our last but in LOVE. Love each person you meet with intensity. Smile and laugh often. Give lots of hugs! Also, when I think about the Second Coming I am reminded of Jesus coming to us in the Eucharist every day at mass. Every day we must prepare to see him and receive him. To stand before him in the Eucharist at his Second Coming. Shalom. Xoxo.