I always enjoy the readings from the Acts of the Apostles that we hear during the Easter season. While the Epistles are full of wisdom, they can be difficult to understand or subject to interpretation. The Acts, though, read like the most interesting history book, presenting the exciting early history of our Church.

In today’s reading from Acts we learn that Paul is being held on charges from his fellow Jews regarding “some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive.” This would not be the last time that Paul would endure imprisonment and persecution for spreading the Good News. Tradition tells us that he eventually suffered martyrdom.

I have mentioned before that my favorite Gospel stories involve Peter, my favorite saint. I love Peter because he is relatable. He is human and makes mistakes, some bigger than others. Yet Jesus chose him to lead the Church, because of his great faith. That gives me hope that God can use me too.

In today’s Gospel reading, the resurrected Jesus shares breakfast with the Apostles and then asks Peter three times to declare his love. Peter seems annoyed by the third request, apparently failing to understand what is obvious to us: that he needs to affirm his love for Jesus three times because he denied him three times. Then Jesus goes on to forecast for Peter the ultimate consequence of living out this love: “When you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” The death Peter sought to escape by denying Christ came in the end when he was crucified after a long life of leading the Church in Rome.

Today is the feast of Saint Philip Neri, who spent most of his life in Rome, leading people to Jesus. He succeeded due to his personal warmth and attractive personality. He is the patron of humor and joy, and he died in his sleep at the end of a long life.

Paul, Peter, and Philip Neri were all evangelists. The original meaning of that word is “bringer of good news.” Each of the three evangelized in his own way: Paul traveled throughout the known world, founding church communities and encouraging them with the letters that have shaped Church teaching; Peter led the early Church in Rome; Philip  gently inspired people to love one another and live holier lives.

When charged with evangelizing, as Catholics we usually think first of the eloquence of Paul or the martyrdom of Peter and we say to ourselves, “I could never do that!” But today remember that there are many ways to evangelize, and not every bringer of the Good News is called to die a martyr’s death. I encourage you to read more about St. Philip Neri and consider how you might reach others via humor, joy, and warmth.

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Saint Boniface

Saint Boniface was an English Benedictine monk who made it his life’s mission to convert the Germanic tribes to Christianity. He found it was no easy task and ended up giving his life for the cause. Boniface was martyred on June 5, 754.