It was one of the last days of spring.
The Mission District’s streets were warm from the bright sun but breezy. Inside the shaded coolness of the writing center, groups of ESL students worked with volunteers in hushed voices. It was the internship of my college-self’s dreams, and I sat typing at a computer when I heard one of the tutors say, “What’s a bumpkin? Um . . . Bonnie! Bonnie’s a bumpkin!”
“Excuse me?!” I laughed while trying to hide how insulted I was. “I am most certainly not a bumpkin!”
The volunteer tutor sat by a tween novel-reading ESL student, and they both laughed. The tutor said, “But you’re from a small country town in Illinois. Doesn’t that make you a bumpkin?” I tried to explain that being from a small town in flyover country is brilliant, but those two city-dwellers just couldn’t understand.
But at least I was in good company.
As we see in today's Gospel, the leaders of the Sanhedrin thought Saints Peter and John were just a couple of country bumpkins, too. And maybe they were!
But the boldness of those two uneducated, ordinary men (see Acts 4:13) was enough to scare the elders and scribes who ordered Peter and John to "not speak or teach at all in the Name of Jesus" (Acts 4:18).
Yet they refused to be silent, saying it was impossible for them not to speak of what they had lived (see Acts 4:20). Not only were they compelled to speak based on their own experiences with the Lord, but He had commissioned them to spread the Gospel in Mark 16:15. They did not allow themselves to be held back by where they came from, what they lacked in skill or talent, or really, anything else.
They were who God wanted them to be—bumpkins and all—and they were going to be who He created them to be. They cooperated with His grace and got the job done.
We access a greater sense of who God created us to be when we're practicing growing in virtue. Brush up on the virtues with a quick look over here.
Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker, and homemaker. She lives with her husband and eight children in Illinois. Bonnie is the author of "61 Minutes to a Miracle" which tells the story of her son's miracle that was approved by Pope Francis for the beatification of Venerable Fulton Sheen. She likes to bake, putz about the yard, and tell her kids to tidy the house. She is the author of the Blessed Conversations Mystery: Believe study found here. You can find out more about her here.