Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fourth Sunday in the Easter Season - 2012

On this fourth Sunday during the joyous days of the Easter Season, of the Resurrection celebration of our salvation, we are invited to let our minds, hearts and souls share in a reality so great that we cannot afford to miss it, to let it go by.  What is it?  Well, St. Luke seems to have understood it.  This is what he is sharing with us in the Acts of the Apostles reading, the first part of today's Liturgy of the Word.  It may well be what many of us fail to understand in its fullness.  Luke attempts to teach us what this "it" is by recounting a challenging moment in the lives of two of the Apostles.

First recall an earlier scene in the lives of Peter and John, a event that brought them to jail.  Today's part of the Acts of the Apostles recounts how Peter and John responded to the charges brought against him in the "Supreme Court," the Sanhedrin.  Because a crippled man, a beggar, asked for help in the form of coinage at the gate to the Temple area, the gate called Beautiful.  What a contrast:  ornate decorations on the gate and suffering in the life of a human being.

When the two Apostles were entering the gate for noontime prayer one day, the crippled man saw them and asked for a handout, a few coins.  Notice what happened.  First, the Apostles did not look down on the poor fellow and say "Scram.  This is a place of worship.  Get on your way."  Rather, mindful of how their own lives had changed and what they had learned and believed, they responded in similar words to these.  "Money we don't have, friend.  But let us offer you something far better.  In the name of Jesus Christ, get up and walk."  What would happen in our society should you give that answer to someone begging from you today?

In the courtroom the Apostle known for putting his foot in his mouth, speaks from a new heart, a new conviction, from a genuine metanoia.  "Get up and walk, man. Through the power of Jesus Christ, I tell you that you are healed.  Get up!"  He did.  So excited was he that he jumped up and started to dance.  So, they tell the judges that it was not themselves who had enabled the man to get up and walk.  No, their healing come through them to the man from Jesus Christ.  "You remember him.  The one from Nazareth.  The one you condemned to death on the cross.  Through Jesus' power we raised the man up.  It was not us.  It was God's power through Jesus Christ that saved the man."  While speaking to the judges, Peter was speaking to all humanity:  "In Jesus Christ, all people can be raised up from whatever it is that impedes reconciliation with God and neighbor.  Yes, in Jesus everyone is given the opportunity for salvation.  It is there for the asking!"

In our computer drive world that is moulding so much of our lives, we must realize that salvation is not a one time event in our lives.  It is more than pushing one key and they on our way.  Salvation is more than taking just a moment for a quick prayer.  Salvation is truly an experience moment in the process of conversion that will impact "the rest of the story" that is your life.    It has to touch every moment, every day of your life.  Salvation is an ongoing awareness of the place of God in one's life.  God is "the priority."  Why?  Because the gift of salvation from our God is much like that father's embrace when his errant son returns.  The loving father wraps his arms around all the disappointments and failures in the son's life as well as all the potential the son now has the opportunity to become.  So, too, for us:  God, our Father, will embrace our minds, hearts, souls, affection, priorities, challenges, disappointments, hopes, loves and even our fickle attitudes.  Salvation is realize our need for rebirth and accepting God's gift and making that gift real in every moment of our lives.

This is the message that Peter is giving the judges in the Sanhedrin:  Jesus, the Christ, is God's gift of salvation to the entire world!  God's salvation brought a crippled man to his feet.  His salvation brought the man to dance!  Imagine now, asking for a few coins that would mean a day's survival had become an ask for what became a most unusual salvation.  

This gift is yours ... if you are willing to accept it.  Are you strong enough to be reborn ... reborn not just once but every day of your life?  We cannot afford to let life pass us by!  Don't ask for what easily ends or is quickly spent.  Ask to be touched by the Holy Spirit, to be healed.  Why not?  Why not today?  Kick up YOUR heels!  Make a true Leap of Faith!