“They were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:37)
Today’s first reading is the concluding part of Peter’s sermon on the life of Christ. Luke tells us that the audience was “cut to the heart.” As Peter spoke, the words became “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The people asked Peter, “What are we to do?” Peter, the simple fisherman who did not attend a university preached and thousands were converted. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. He not only prepared the words in Peter’s mouth but also softened the hearts of the listeners to accept the message. When the people asked Peter what they were to do, Peter made just one request: “Repent and be baptized in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins… Save yourself from this crooked generation.” This is the same message for us today in this time of the pandemic.
Dear friends, it doesn’t matter what your past has been. Our Psalmist today sings: “His merciful love fills the earth.” Receive the forgiveness and mercy offered by God this season of Easter, repent from your sinful ways and live every day as though it were your last. Consider the fact that this same Peter whose sermon converted three thousand had a past. He denied Jesus three times but unlike Judas, Peter accepted Jesus’ forgiveness; he repented, picked up his cross and began again. There comes a time in our own lives when we have to stop crying over our past faults and mistakes. There comes a time when we have clean the tears in our eyes so that we can see clearly what is before us. Mary Magdalene could not recognize Jesus because of the tears in her eyes. She thought He was the gardener. Judas Iscariot cried so much that he failed to see the loving gaze of Jesus. In his desperation, Judas hung himself.
Let go of your past. Dry your tears. God wants to use you. Mary Magdalene had a past but it was to her Jesus said: “Go and tell my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” God wants to work through you. God has a message you can help Him deliver. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, free me from guilt and use me mightily as your instrument to spread your word to the ends of the earth. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Amen. Bible Study: Acts 2:36-41, Psalm 33 and John 20:11-18).
When You Have God, You Have Everything
“Peter said: ‘I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’” (Acts 3:6)
The lame man at the beautiful gate begged for alms; he asked for what would ensure his survival for the moment. Is this not our story? We get on our knees praying; begging God for silver and gold. How often do we ask for a deeper faith, holiness, repentance, deeper relationship with God? Peter did not have money but he knew he had God. He said: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” When you have God, you have everything. When you do not have God, nothing is ever enough.
In today’s Gospel passage, two disciples were walking away from Jerusalem in disappointment. They were expecting Jesus to take over political power from the Romans. They had been eying some political appointments in Jesus’ Government. Like this lame man, their relationship with Jesus was based purely on materialistic expectations. Jesus met them on their way to Emmaus and like Mary Magdalene, they did not immediately recognize Jesus not because their eyes were covered with tears, but because their minds were closed to the truth. Jesus took his time to explain the whole of the Bible to them, beginning with Moses and all the prophets. Jesus gave them a profound lecture or better put, the greatest sermon of their lives. Their hearts burned within them.
They realized how wrong they were to have had such expectations of Jesus but still, they couldn’t recognize Jesus. It was at the breaking of bread that their eyes were opened. Why did Jesus vanish? Did Jesus really vanish? See, as soon as the Bread and Wine became transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Jesus, Jesus became present in two physical forms. They couldn’t see Him who escorted them on the way to Emmaus, but they saw Him fully present in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus was still with them just as He is with us today.
By this experience with these two disciples, Jesus was passing on a deep message not only to the two disciples but to mankind. Jesus did not come into this world to make us materially rich or politically powerful (possessing earthly kingdoms, etc.) No, Jesus came to give us something far more important: His Body and Blood – His physical presence in the Holy Eucharist. Jesus is still with us today and He is all we need. Nothing else can ever satisfy us. There is no amount of silver and gold that will be enough, nothing can ever fill up the emptiness we often feel deep inside our hearts. Even all your problems (especially COVID-19) will be over today, if you don’t have God, you will still be restless. You know that song: “You take the whole world, and give me Jesus. You take the whole world and give me Jesus, you take the whole world and give me Jesus. I’m satisfied, I’m satisfied.” Let us pray: Lord Jesus, open my eyes to really see what I have. Amen. Bible Study: Acts 3:1-10, Psalm 105 and Luke 24:13-35).