Acts 3:1-10 Filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostles performed miracles of healing similar to those accomplished by Christ during his earthly ministry, just as he had promised. These works, as he had predicted, would cause great consternation among the Jewish authorities and lead to severe persecutions. (CCC 2640)
Ch 3:1 The hour of prayer: The ninth hour (3 PM) indicates the time of the evening sacrifice. The Apostles and early Christians were still part of the Jewish community who attended Temple prayer at the prescribed times. (CCC 584)
Ch 3:11-26 This portico was a meeting place for early Christians. Peter’s address affirmed that their power to heal was from God through the invocation of the name of Jesus. He called upon the people to acknowledge Jesus as the promised Messiah, whose Life, Death, and Resurrection fulfilled the prophecies. (CCC 612, 626, 2651, 2663-2666)
Ch 3:13-16 Peter used the same construction by which God identified himself to Moses in the burning bush (cf. Ex 3:6).
Holy and Righteous One: This is Christ, as evidenced by his works.
A murderer: Barabbas, who was released instead of Christ by Pilate.
Author of life: Christ, in his divine nature, is the creator of the universe and the source of eternal life for humanity. (CCC 13-14, 435, 438, 2651)
Ch 3:15 To affirm that Christ was “raised from the dead” means that at death his Body and soul were separated and his soul went to the abode of the dead, also referred to as the bosom of Abraham. The Church proclaims this in the Apostles’ Creed: “He descended into hell.” Nevertheless, he was there to liberate and usher into Heaven the righteous men and women of the Old Covenant who awaited the Redemption. (CCC 612, 626, 632, 635, 2666)
Ch 3:17-18 You acted in ignorance: Those who rejected and crucified Christ would not have done so if they had understood who he really is. This statement resonates with Christ’s words from the Cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). The moral teachings of the Church distinguish between vincible ignorance, in which the individual is willfully ignorant and does not take the available measures to know the truth, and invincible ignorance, in which it is not possible to know a particular truth. While invincible ignorance renders the person inculpable for sin, there is always a degree of sin, whether small or great, when the ignorance is vincible. The members of the Sanhedrin who conspired to put Christ to Death, for example, exhibited a mixture of ignorance and stubbornness, yet God ultimately accomplished his divine plan even in the midst of the sins of humanity. (CCC 591, 597, 599-601)
Ch 3:19-21 That your sins may be blotted out: An invitation to the waters of Baptism so our sins may be forgiven. (CCC 674, 1871-1876)
Ch 3:22-23 The messianic prophecy of Moses (cf. Dt 18:15-19) cautioned Israel to watch for a great prophet bearing the Word of God who would hold the key to salvation. This is the prophet many of the Jews had in mind when they asked whether John the Baptist or Christ were “the prophet.” Peter, who had previously acknowledged Christ’s divinity, identified Christ as this prophet: not a merely human messenger of the coming of God but the presence of God himself. (CCC 707)
Romans 4:1-25 We respond to God’s goodness and mercy by faith and worship. By our faith in Christ through the grace of Baptism, we are justified. The Law remains in force, but the keeping of the Law does not sanctify us; rather, God’s grace enables us to go beyond the Law through a life of charity. God justified Abraham for his faith manifested by his fidelity to God’s will, even to the extreme point of being willing to sacrifice his son. (CCC 144-147, 517, 519)
Ch 4:11 All who believe...circumcised: The true sons of Abraham are not those who have simply descended from him but who share his faith. (CCC 146)
Ch 4:13 The promise of God that Abraham would become the “father of a multitude of nations” (cf. Gn 17:4) preceded by several generations the Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. (CCC 72, 706, 2572)
Ch 4:15 The law brings wrath: The Law of Moses stipulates the consequences and punishments for transgressing that Law. If there were no Law, there would be no such consequences. (CCC 2542)
Ch 4:17 Calls into existence...not exist: God alone can create from nothing. (CCC 298)
Ch 4:18-24 Barrenness: The word is closer to “deadness.” Abraham believed the promises of God included the new life of a child despite his and his wife’s advanced age. Similarly, our belief that God raised Christ from the dead leads to faith in our own bodily resurrection at the last judgment.
Reckoned to him as righteousness: Abraham’s complete faith and trust in God was a clear manifestation of his holiness in the eyes of God. (CCC 146, 164-165, 706, 1819)
Ch 4:25 Justification, the grace of salvation, comes to us from God through the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ. (CCC 34, 517, 654, 977, 1266)
Ch 5:1-11 The theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity (love) are both a cause and a result of the gratuitous gifts that come with our justification by God. At the same time, the three theological virtues require our cooperation by putting them into practice.
God’s love has been poured into our hearts: Paul used a graphic image that denotes how we are infused with new life in Christ, which is a share in the life of the Trinity. (CCC 733, 1813, 1820, 1964, 2658)
Ch 5:3-5 Our trust in God, our Father, is put to the test in times of hardship and suffering. It is also in such times that God’s love for us is proven again and again. Such trials are necessary for our interior spiritual growth. (CCC 368, 2734, 2847)
Ch 5:6-11 God’s love for us is unconditional, and the greatest witness of this is Christ’s Death for our sins in order to redeem us although we were unworthy and undeserving of his mercy. Rather than be separated from God by our sins, all of us have access to reconciliation with God and the peace and joy of Christ. As sinful as we may be, God loves infinitely and unconditionally. In light of this fact, we are expected to love everyone, including our enemies. (CCC 603-604, 1825)
Ch 5:10 We were reconciled with God at Baptism through which we symbolically die with Christ and are incorporated into his Death and Resurrection. We remain reconciled if we do not reject his grace. Furthermore, we can grow in sanctity by meriting an increase of grace. (CCC 1026)
Ch 5:12-21 The sin of Adam has ramifications for all his descendants. Among these consequences, all of us are subject to death, inclined to sin, and vulnerable to temptation. The Church teaches that every human person (with the notable exception of Mary) is conceived with the stain of Original Sin, i.e., lacking sanctifying grace and in need of redemption. That is why Baptism, which forgives all sin and bestows sanctifying grace, is necessary for salvation. (CCC 388-390, 400-406, 419, 612, 1008, 1018-1019)
Ch 5:18-19 The sin of Adam is transmitted to every person “‘By propagation, not by imitation’ and that it is…’proper to each’” (CPG 16). The redemption of Christ, the New Adam, brings about justification and salvation, as if each one of us made the necessary expiation for our sins. (CCC 397, 411, 532, 615, 623)
Ch 5:20-21 The Old Law set parameters for right and wrong so the Israelites would have very clear guidance for their moral behavior. The New Law of grace and the charity of Christ perfect the Old Law.
Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more: The Crucifixion of Christ led to a limitless outpouring of grace in the Resurrection of Christ and the redemption of his people. God continually makes available all the grace we need to resist temptation and overcome sin. We need only to ask for it in faith. (CCC 312, 385, 412, 415-421, 1848)
Proverbs 27:1 Christ stated something similar when he said, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day” (Mt 6:34). The spiritual writer Jean Pierre de Caussade put it more positively: “The present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams, but you will only enjoy them to the extent of your faith and love. The more a soul loves, the more it longs, the more it hopes, the more it finds. The will of God is manifest in each moment, an immense ocean which only the heart fathoms insofar as it overflows with faith, trust, and love” (The Sacrament of the Present Moment).
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Healing and Teaching in Jesus’ Name
On their way to the Temple, Peter and John encounter a man born lame begging for alms. Peter responds that while he has no silver or gold, he will share what he has; “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6).
The lame man, “leaping up,” praises God and, to the amazement of the people, he walks into the Temple to worship God.
Jesus healed a lame man (Lk 5:17-26), and now Peter, by invoking the name of Jesus, imitates his Lord.
Just as Moses did signs and wonders in the Lord’s name, so now the apostles do signs and wonders in Jesus’ name.
The Greek for “leaping up” is a rather rare word, but it is the same one used in the Septuagint translation of Isaiah 35:6, in which Isaiah described how Israel’s new Exodus would be accompanied by the lame being healed and “leaping up like a hart.”
For those who know Israel’s story, it is not just a lame man who unexpectedly jumps up to new life; it is the prophetic oracles of Israel that seem to be jumping off the scrolls and giving glory to God.
The time of Israel’s long-awaited restoration, begun in Jesus, continues with vigor in his disciples.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
Speaking of IN JESUS NAME
Acts of the Apostles Ch 3
So we had Pentecost
And now thousands of people have been baptized
There are people who are following the Lord and they are gathering together
We mentioned this before in Ch 2
Acts 2:42, “And they held steadfastly to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”
But here is Acts Ch 3
Peter and John are going up to the Temple
They are going up to PRAY!
Because they are good Jews
You have to remember this
The reason we spent all of that time reading through the Old Testament is because the Old Testament is STILL IN EFFECT
The New Testament is the FULFILLMENT of the Old Testament
What Fr. Mike means by STILL IN EFFECT is that there was this HERESY way back in the day that says, “The Old Testament is abolished now.”
The Hebrew Scriptures are completely unnecessary and useless
THAT IS NOT THE CASE!!
That was a HERESY that was condemned
The New Testament, in Christ Jesus, God’s promises of the Old Testament are FULFILLED, not abolished
Jesus even says as much
So here are Peter and John going up to the Temple
Yeah maybe they’re going up there because they want the opportunity to preach in the Temple precincts
Also because they are going up at the hour of prayer
Because they saw themselves as Jews
Just Judaism fulfilled in Jesus Christ
So here they are
And there is a person sitting and begging at the gate
They look at him intently
Acts 3:5-6, “And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk.’”
His response is exactly the response you would expect who was unable to walk and then all of a sudden is completely restored
Acts 3:8-10, “And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.”
That’s what YOU would be doing
If you were UNABLE to walk and you were RESTORED to be able to walk once again
Wouldn’t you use that gift?
This goes back to Acts Ch 2
We talked about this
How God sends the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles to do what?
Not simply to get into a “holy huddle”
BUT TO MOVE OUT
AND USE THE GIFT GOD HAS GIVEN TO THEM
Here is the beggar who was unable to walk
Now God has given him the gift of being able to walk
What is he doing?
HE IS USING THE GIFT THAT GOD GAVE TO HIM!!
This is one of the things for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US
God has given ALL OF US various gifts
Those GIFTS are meant to be enjoyed, yes
They are also meant to be USED
We GLORIFY the Lord when we give him THANKS for the gifts he has given us
We GLORIFY the Lord EVEN FURTHER when we USE the gifts he has given us
So here are Peter and John using the GIFT of healing
Here is the man who has been given the gift of walking and leaping and dancing and jumping
AND HE IS USING THAT GIFT!!
It is so powerful because these miracles accompany what?
These miracles accompany THE PROCLAMATION OF JESUS
One of the things that has happened in the last 2,000 years of Christianity is MIGHTY WORKS
There are many MIGHTY WORKS
There are many INCREDIBLE MIRACLES
Those miracles ALMOST ALL have to accompany the PROCLAMATION OF JESUS CHRIST
AS THE LORD
AS THE SAVIOR
AS THE ONE WHO HAS CONQUERED DEATH ON BEHALF OF THE FATHER AND FOR US
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!
Miracles, yes, are because God loves us
But the function of miracles, or the reason why God would continue to do miracles in our world are not only because he loves us
Because sometimes the miracle doesn’t happen
Even more, it’s so that God can be KNOWN
So that here is the MIGHTY WORK that is done
Here is the MIRACLE that is wrought
Here is the HEALING that happens
HE CAN THEN BE PROCLAIMED
That is the KEY thing
Because we realize physical healing is SO IMPORTANT
SPIRITUAL HEALING IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT
Because SPIRITUAL suffering and SPIRITUAL death are even more debilitating
Healing almost always must accompany a PROCLAMATION OF JESUS CHRIST AS LORD
AS IT HAPPENS TODAY!!
It’s incredible in Acts Ch 3 it also comes at a price
Because tomorrow we will see Peter and John are summoned before the council, the Sanhedrin
We’ll see how that goes tomorrow
Today we also have the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans
THIS IS A MASTERWORK
THIS IS A PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL LIKE NONE OTHER
So it is going to be really difficult to try and sum up what St. Paul is saying in his Letter to the Romans
Remember before this he was talking about those who were Gentiles who did not know the Law and did not know the revelation of God
They have no excuse because they SHOULD know right from wrong
And the Jews, who DO know right from wrong, do not live up to the Law
So basically no one lives up to the law
We heard in Ch 3 “Yes, but we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God. But we are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption which is Christ Jesus.”
WHICH IS INCREDIBLE!!
In Romans Ch 4 St. Paul points to Abraham
Not only did we hear about Abraham in Acts Ch 3
But we also hear about Abraham in Romans Ch 4
The point that Paul is making is…
Let’s go back…
Remember in Rome, there were two groups of Christians
Christians who came from Judaism
And Christians who DID NOT come from Judaism
There was a span of maybe 5 years or so where Jews were kicked out of Rome
Now they came back, including Jews who were Christians
They might have had different views on how things should be done, how people should live
So the role of circumcision may be one of those roles
St. Paul goes back to the circumcision of Abraham and says, “Was it Abraham’s circumcision that made him righteous, or was it his faith?”
And remember Genesis
Actually Abraham trusted in the Lord BEFORE he was circumcised and that circumcision was a sign of his trust
He already had faith in the Lord
He already trusted the Lord before the circumcision
So St. Paul is making the point of saying, “Yup, Abraham at one point was circumcised. But also he had faith BEFORE he was circumcised. Therefore, circumcision itself doesn’t mean anything.”
Now obviously it meant something in the Old Covenant
In this context where you have Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians having debates over the role of circumcision, Paul is saying, “No no. This is why it depends on FAITH. Because Abraham had faith even prior to the circumcision.”
Hopefully that makes SOME sense
Obviously, it gets deeper than that because it is a call for us to have faith as well
But that is kind of the context and example that St. Paul is using in Ch 4
There are so many things to say about Romans Ch 5
Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”
Imagine this because St. Paul will go on to describe how actually there was a time when we were enemies of God
Let’s pause on that for a second…
There was a time when you and I were enemies of God and through our sins we make ourselves enemies again
St. Paul says, “We are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus has transformed the enmity we had between us and God into a FRIENDSHIP
Romans 5:2, “Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we can rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.”
THAT IS INCREDIBLE!!
Those are the first two verses of Ch 5
But then beyond that…
Romans 5:3-5, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
It’s not useless right?
We know that God uses EVERYTHING
We know that NOTHING is wasted when given to God
So even our SUFFERINGS do something
Our SUFFERINGS produce ENDURANCE
ENDURANCE produces CHARACTER
CHARACTER produces HOPE
And HOPE does not disappoint because we have God’s love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit
Fr. Mike quotes this about once a week…
Romans 5:6-7, “While we were yet helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man-though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die.”
In the New American Bible it continues…”But God proves his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
This is SUCH GOOD NEWS!!
While we were ENEMIES of God HE DIED FOR US
While we were his ENEMIES, Jesus Christ DIED FOR US
While we were yet sinners, he DIED FOR US
Yes, if we are already good, maybe a really righteous person, if we were already friends maybe a good person would find courage to die
God PROVES his love for us in that while we were still his ENEMIES, while we were still SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US
Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”
OH MY GOSH!!
WHAT A GIFT!!
Then it goes on to talk about Adam whose disobedience brought death to the world
Here is Jesus the NEW ADAM and through his OBEDIENCE brings LIFE to EVERYONE WHO BELONGS TO HIM
This is why it’s called THE GREAT ADVENTURE
We have spent over 300 DAYS listening to this HUGE STORY
And now this is the APEX of the story
This is the SUMMARY of the story
All of the promises from the Old Testament
All the HOPE
All the LONGING
All the SUFFERING
All the UPS AND DOWNS
All the BROKENNESS of the Old Testament
Is now FULFILLED IN JESUS CHRIST
And we have ACCESS to that because of HIM
Because of his UNENDING RELENTLESS LOVE FOR EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US
You and I have access to this GRACE
Because while we were ENEMIES of God he DIED FOR US
While we were SINNERS
While we were BROKEN
While we had NOTHING TO OFFER
HE OFFERED EVERYTHING
To give us the chance to BELONG TO HIM
To give us the chance to BE HIS
To give us the chance to BE HIS SONS AND DAUGHTERS
AND LET GOD BE OUR FATHER
THIS IS INSANE!!
WHAT A GIFT!!
PRAISE THE LORD!!
He loves you so much
Right now you need to know this
The Lord God LOVES YOU VERY MUCH
HE DELIGHTS IN YOU
He declares over you, “YOU ARE MINE. NEVER BELIEVE THE LIE THAT YOU ARE NOT WANTED. NEVER BELIEVE THE LIE THAT YOUR LIFE DOES NOT MATTER. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE WANTED.”
HE WILL NEVER STOP LOVING YOU NO MATTER WHAT
I hope that you believe that
I pray that you believe that
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU!!
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and thank you so much. Thank you for the gift of this day. Thank you for the gift of your mercies, which are new every single morning. Thank you for the gift of Grace that comes to us as a complete and free gift. Not something that we’ve earned and not something that we deserve, but simply something that we receive because of your goodness, not because of our worth, not because of our goodness, not because of our dignity, but simply because you are good. Because you are just. Because you are the God who is good. You are the Lord of all and you have purchased us at a price. You have won us to yourself not only by wresting us from the power of sin and death, but you have won our hearts by revealing your gentle heart, your strong heart, your faithful heart, your relentless heart that loves us and chooses us no matter what. So we thank you. Help us to choose you. Help us to receive your love no matter what. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”