by M. J. Joachim
Several things stood out as I read and studied Acts 3: 11 – 26. Once again, Peter and John affirm they are messengers, not healers of the crippled beggar. They also point to Jesus as the Messiah. But more than that, they refer to Jesus as a prophet in verse 22 & 23:
For Moses said: A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen in all that he may say to you. Everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be cut off from the people.
Acts 3: 11 – 26 is titled, Peter’s Speech. Peter is the leader of the apostles and he addresses the people, to affirm God and limit errors of faith in their thinking.
The crippled beggar was stunned by what happened to him. Verse 11 states, “As he clung to Peter and John…” This natural response to God’s miracle in his life is timeless, and should be our response to the gifts of God’s love in our lives, as well.
Acknowledging the gift and indeed blessing of all people, recognizing them as unique spiritual beings, and lifting them up, as appropriate to our encounter with them, (should be) as natural as eating our daily meal.
Kindly follow my abstract line of thinking for a moment. Notice how Peter and John admonish the Israelites who are amazed by God’s generosity. Peter quickly points out that God is the giver.
Okay, here’s where I couldn’t help but take this…
While appreciation and gratitude are natural expressions to the gifts of God’s love, greed and gluttony destroy its benefits.
Later in the passage Peter states, “Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer.”
Clearly there is a right and wrong way to live! Acts 3: 11 – 26 goes to great lengths to point this out. What it doesn’t do is require us to be perfect. Instead, we are called to admit our weaknesses (if only to ourselves) and be sorry for them, while turning our hearts toward the truth we find in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
“Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Messiah already appointed for you, Jesus, whom Heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. (Acts 3: 19 – 22)
Acts 3: 11 – 26 (as written in The New American Catholic Bible)
As he clung to Peter and John, all the people hurried in amazement toward them in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.” When Peter saw this, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we made him walk by our own power or piety? The God of Abraham, [the God] of Isaac, and [the God] of Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, when he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you. Now I know, brothers that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Messiah already appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. For Moses said: ‘A prophet like me will the Lord, your God raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen in all that he may say to you. Everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be cut off from the people.
Moreover, all prophets who spoke, from Samuel and those afterwards, also announced these days. You are the children of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors when he said to Abraham, ‘In your offspring all the families of the earth shall be blessed. For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.’
Just the Facts
Peter was talking to the _____ when he said, “You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.
c. Crippled beggar
How is Jesus referred to in this passage?
d. All of the above
The prophets in this passage
a. Cured the sick
b. Announced these days
c. Spoke to the people directly
d. Were as ignorant as the Israelites
Peter told the people to
a. Repent and carry on
b. Repent and be converted
c. Do severe penance for their sins
d. Remain stubborn in their ignorance
The Israelites are the children of the prophets.
God raised Jesus up to turn people from their evil ways.
The author of life was put to death.
Faith made the crippled beggar strong.
Soul Searching Internalization
Verse 16 states, “And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you.
How are you defined by your faith or lack of faith? When you feel weak and tired, for any number of reasons, do you cling to Jesus, or doubt He understands your problems? Are you persistent (as the crippled beggar was) in asking for help when you need it? Do you believe other people can be messengers of God’s love in your life, answering your prayers in ways you never dreamed possible?
Visualize the gift of God’s people. As you do so, picture the many unborn children – gifts of God’s love, growing in their mother’s wombs. Take a moment (or two or three) to reflect on the true miracle of human life. Pray for all the unborn children that they may have safe and healthy development. Pray that their families will recognize them as the true gifts they really are in those families.
Now take a moment, compose yourself and focus very intently on one particular unborn child, the one who at this very moment is in extreme danger, crying out for help and in need of your immediate assistance. Bless this child and in the deepest part of your heart and soul, adopt this child spiritually as your own, while you plead with God’s mercy to save it from imminent doom and extermination.
Games and Puzzles
Make teams or divide up into pairs of players. Each team takes time to create a crossword puzzle, using words found only in Acts 3: 11 – 26. They also write (difficult, clever, creative and funny) clues for each word in their puzzle.
After puzzles are made, teams swap puzzles, and each team has 5 minutes to solve as many words as possible in the puzzle. The team with the most solutions wins.
If there are more than 2 teams, players keep score and swap puzzles until all teams have had a chance to play each puzzle.
Hint: Use a Scrabble® game to make crossword puzzles.
Divide into two or more teams. Copy the Scripture, so each team has a copy. Use a timer and race to see which team can create an alphabetical list of words from this passage first.
Assign each letter of the alphabet a point value. See who can rack up the most points, when creating an alphabetized list, using words from this passage.
The Final Word
Miracles happen every day in our lives, but sometimes, we’re too busy to notice or care. We simply don’t have time or energy to appreciate God’s gifts. We might even become rattled or irritated with our family, friends, co-workers and people in the community easily. We forget that, as busy as we are, other people are just as busy.
Everyone has stuff. We all have things to do and no one is exempt from dealing with problems or emotional stress.
Acts 3 reminds us that all people have needs. It also encourages us to recognize the signs and people, pointing us to God and his truths. It teaches us to make life changes that will enhance our spiritual well-being, which in turn will touch the hearts and souls of many, simply because we believe and choose to live as faithful followers of Jesus Christ, our Lord and God.
See you next post, with the answers to the questions.
Wishing you only good things,
©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credits: Wikipedia Commons, Public Domain (photos 1, 2, 3, 4); Priests for Life, baby - 4 months old, growing in mother's womb