“Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.” (Acts 3:6-7)
The experience of Peter and John in our first reading today is one that virtually every priest can relate with. Amongst those who come to us immediately after mass, a good number are those who believe we have so much money to spare. They come with different stories, some of which are true but some cooked up scams. What usually strikes me is the feeling of disappointment, anger and disgust I see on their face when I am not able to assist financially.
As ministers of God, we are responsible not just for the spiritual but also the physical welfare of the people. Jesus said: “give them something to eat.” (Matthew 14:16, Mark 6:37, Luke 9:13). Nevertheless, as much as we struggle to assist the needy from the charities we receive, some Christians today, having lost faith in God’s ability to work through His ministers, have forgotten that our primary assignment is to provide spiritual nourishment for the flock of Christ.
Jesus fed the multitude with five loaves and two fish but the following day, when the crowd returned hoping to be fed gain, Jesus said to them: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.” (John 6:26-27). Jesus did not come to feed our stomachs; He came to lead us to heaven.
I once told someone who begged for my assistance: “I don’t have money right now but know that I am praying for you” but this person hissed and said: “Am I going to eat prayer?” In our age, many have come to believe that the church is type of business enterprise. Our so-called men of God engage in riches-display-competition and even brag about their wealth. As such, one cannot blame anyone who thinks the priest is telling a lie when he says he is penniless.
In our first reading today, the lame man at the Beautiful Gate begged Peter and John for alms because he believed they has some money on them. Peter, who sincerely had not money on him prayed for lame man and God restored his feet. As Jesus said to the crowd who wanted food from him, let us refrain from working only for food which perishes but that which endures to eternal life; ask the priest to pray for you not merely to give you alms.
Just as many are often disappointed in the priest when he is not able to provide financial assistance, the two disciples in today’s Gospel passage are walking away from Jerusalem because they felt disappointed in Jesus. They were expecting earthly kingdom and seats in the government of Jesus and so they couldn’t fathom why Jesus would allow himself to be killed. They even heard of the resurrection but it didn’t make any sense to them.
When we are only concerned about money, the things of God do not make sense to us. Jesus Christ met these two disciples on the way but they failed to recognize Him because their hearts were clouded by material pursuits. Jesus took his time to explain the Scriptures to them, and their hearts burned within them. Then at the breaking of bread, Jesus opened their eyes and they ran back to Jerusalem to tell what they had seen. Don’t become disappointed with God because you are not rich or materially wealthy, God wants to do more for you; He wants you to enjoy eternal life.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, open my eyes to really see what I have. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 3:1-10, Ps. 105:1-4,6-9, Luke 24:13-35.)
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu