24 April 2019
Once, when Peter and John were going up to the Temple for the prayers at the ninth hour, it happened that there was a man being carried past. He was a cripple from birth; and they used to put him down every day near the Temple entrance called the Beautiful Gate so that he could beg from the people going in. When this man saw Peter and John on their way into the Temple he begged from them. Both Peter and John looked straight at him and said, ‘Look at us.’ He turned to them expectantly, hoping to get something from them, but Peter said, ‘I have neither silver nor gold, but I will give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!’ Peter then took him by the hand and helped him to stand up. Instantly his feet and ankles became firm, he jumped up, stood, and began to walk, and he went with them into the Temple, walking and jumping and praising God. Everyone could see him walking and praising God, and they recognised him as the man who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. They were all astonished and unable to explain what had happened to him.
Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.
Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’
Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.
When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’
They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.
In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!
Years ago, my wife and I attended a programme where we experienced a renewal in our Christian faith. Soon after, we were asked to help facilitate another run of the sessions at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We journeyed with a few couples over a few months and were asked to continue as cell group leaders.
While we agreed to take on the role, we found the path extremely challenging. We felt wholly inadequate for this task and experienced doubt. I remember constantly questioning myself; thinking that we were not ‘holy’ enough to guide others.
After about a year, the constant stress wore us down before we finally decided to step down as leaders. We felt drained, uninspired and defeated.
Quite a few years later, both of us went for the Conversion Experience Retreat (CER). I began to feel God’s hand in my life in ways I had never experienced. I no longer felt alone. While my retreat was some three years ago, I continue to experience Him every day.
When the first parish-level CER was planned for the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS), my wife and I were asked to serve in the Praise and Worship Team. The preparation for this took a total of eight months and the retreat was an amazing success; we saw renewals in many of the participants and the music played an important part in the whole experience.
What was different about the CER? We relied constantly on God; praying and lifting all our efforts and concerns to Him. While we continued to work hard, we knew that with God in the picture, all was going to be well.
In the first reading of today, Peter and John also did just that. It was interesting to see how Peter, a man wracked with constant doubt, step up and become a different man, “…in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene”.
Like him, let us all do everything in Jesus’ name. We do everything with His strength, not ours.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)
Prayer: We pray for the strength and faith to turn to You, Lord Jesus. Let us not rely on our own strength, but Yours!
Thanksgiving: Thank You Jesus, for being with us in all we are and all we do!