3rd Saturday of Easter
Acts 9: 31 – 42; Ps 116; John 6: 60 – 69
Before His Ascension, Jesus proclaimed to the Apostles: “Signs like these will accompany those who have professed their faith: they will use My name to expel demons, they will speak entirely new languages…and the sick upon whom they lay their hands will recover.” (Mark 16: 17) St. Mark does not report the apostles’ reaction to these wondrous promises so we have no idea if, at that moment, they were shocked, awe-struck, dumbfounded or what.
But from the passage of Acts read at this Mass, it is obvious that Peter not only heard these promises but also embraced them with deep conviction. In Lydda Peter encountered Aeneas, a paralytic – “Aeneas, Jesus Christ cures you! Get up and make your bed” – and he did, the first time in eight years.
In Joppa, a recently converted woman, much loved, had died and Peter was implored to come. With urgency he set out – his conviction of the gift received is never in doubt – without hesitation, he knelt down and prayed – “Tabitha, stand up!” – he graciously helped her to her feet.
All through the Scriptures we meet men and women who are icons or representatives of the life of faith. They speak to us of grace given, grace received and grace lived. Peter is such an icon for us. The gift has nothing to do with intelligence, with merit, with prestige – with God there are no favorites.
The Spirit of the Father and the Son Peter received is the same Holy Spirit we received in Baptism, who came upon us in Confirmation, who fills us with the love of the Lord Jesus and the Father in the Eucharist. Therefore, we and countless others are capable of the miraculous. Perhaps, the gift of healing is ours but surely the gifts of faith, hope and love. There is something miraculous in these three.
To believe in God when faced with doubt, with fear, with the darkest of situations and not give into unbelief, into bitterness…To hope in God when faced with the most trying events, with serious illness, with the death of a loved one, especially a child, and not give into despair, self-pity…To go beyond feelings of selfishness, temptations to self-absorption, experiences of rejection, disdain even hatred by another and reach out in love…these are miracles of grace…and therefore, not small, insignificant acts.
As in Peter so in our depths is the power of God – given to each of us in merciful love – the power to live in Christ with peace, with gratitude, with joy – to be icons, too, of the living God, a living icon of God’s presence – the only One who has the words of Eternal Life.