5 Apr – Thursday in the Octave of Easter
Everyone came running towards Peter and John in great excitement, to the Portico of Solomon, as it is called, where the man was still clinging to Peter and John. When Peter saw the people he addressed them, ‘Why are you so surprised at this? Why are you staring at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or holiness? You are Israelites, and it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had decided to release him. It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses; and it is the name of Jesus which, through our faith in it, has brought back the strength of this man whom you see here and who is well known to you. It is faith in that name that has restored this man to health, as you can all see.
‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, and so that the Lord may send the time of comfort. Then he will send you the Christ he has predestined, that is Jesus, whom heaven must keep till the universal restoration comes which God proclaimed, speaking through his holy prophets. Moses, for example, said: The Lord God will raise up a prophet like myself for you, from among your own brothers; you must listen to whatever he tells you. The man who does not listen to that prophet is to be cut off from the people. In fact, all the prophets that have ever spoken, from Samuel onwards, have predicted these days.
‘You are the heirs of the prophets, the heirs of the covenant God made with our ancestors when he told Abraham: in your offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed. It was for you in the first place that God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.’
The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
They were still talking about all this when he himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.
Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.
It was for you in the first place, that God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you as every one of you turns from his wicked ways.”
The Lord declares in Isaiah 55:8, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are my ways your ways”.
Today’s reading struck me in an unusual way.
Many times, we find ourselves trying to prove that we are right. “See, I told you!”, “Told you but you don’t want to listen.”, “You deserve it for not listening”, “I already told you this will happen, but still…”
We put him on the cross and crucified Him. We doubted and continue to doubt after we have seen His miracles. But Jesus comes, not to show nor prove that He is God, but still even after everything, He reaches out to all of us to love us.
Appearing to apostles in the Gospel and reaching out to those who persecuted Him in the first reading, our God is more than one who desires punishment for us, but one who desires to share this peace, His peace. A peace the world cannot give.
We find ourselves impatient to wait for the next opportunity to pounce to show how good we are, that our ways are the best and how we always knew better. Why? Why do we need to do so?
Is being right more important than being at peace? Is being right the way for us to be at peace?
Even as I’m reflecting, it is truly amazing how I’m just unable to comprehend the extent of the love of God. So immense, uncontainable, immeasurable… beautiful. And a God so great, did all this for us, for me, for you. That’s how much I am worth, that’s how much you are worth.
Let us not allow the world to take this away from us, this grace that God has blessed us all with, that we can call ourselves sons and daughters of the Father. Let our lives always be this celebration of how great you are. Amen.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Dear Lord, grant us this peace, your peace. To always look to you. To have faith in all our despair, for you came to love, you died in order that we may live. Help us to live.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for always reaching out to us first, despite all we have done and are still doing towards you. Thank you Lord, for being our model, our answer, our light in our darkness. Thank you Lord.