Beggar to believer- Wednesday in the Octave of Easter- Acts 3:1-10
The narration of the healing of the crippled beggar by Peter and John, and the subsequent address by Peter in Solomon’s portico will be taken up by the lectionary in two parts. Today we will hear the miracle, and tomorrow the homily. These actions on the part of Peter and John will lead to the first persecution in the Church.
While in chapter two we hear in a generalised way “that many signs and wonders were done”, here is the first recorded miracle performed by the apostles. If you look at the pattern of this healing story, it is typical of a miracle story in the life of Jesus. It is interesting to note how the Church follows Christ, as it should be.
We are told that Peter and John enter the temple at three pm which was one of the three hours of prayer for a pious Jew, and it is here that they see a man who was lame from birth being carried in. We are told that the cripple is laid at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful gate.
Let us talk a bit about this gate which Josephus the historian records. He says this gate was called the ‘Nicanor’ gate and was seventy five feet high and made out of Corinthian bronze. It was a gate that separated the court of the woman from the court of the men or Israel. Fifteen steps led to the court of the women, and it was here that the cripple was placed.
Scripture also tells us that this man was begging from people ‘entering the temple’; technically he is ‘outside the temple’. He has not come as a worshipper but as one seeking charity. He asks Peter and John for alms and so we can surmise that he was not looking for a healing, he was looking for a hand-out. Interestingly after his healing he ‘enters’ the temple as a worshipper and a man of faith.
Note also that nowhere does it say that the cripple had faith in Jesus; he may have had no faith at all. His healing by Peter and John is not based on the merits of the cripple’s faith; the healing is grated as a free gift from God. Healings are a sovereign work of God and we must acknowledge that God can choose to heal any one, believer or non-believer. In this case we don’t know the faith of the cripple but we do know his response to his healing.
Having being healed, this cripple ‘enters the temple’ (twice we are told), and scripture records that he was ‘praising God’. Unlike the nine lepers in the Gospel, this man remembers God’s mercy and is now not only a believer but quite a demonstrative proclaimer.
So what is our take away from scripture? Each of us, at some time in our life has experienced a healing, spiritual or physical. This healing has brought us closer to the worshipping community like the cripple. To be included into the worshipping community is to experience a form of healing.
We can choose therefore to be welcoming of those sitting at the gate in need of healing and be instruments of healing, or on the other hand we may identify ourselves with the cripple who has been healed for no merit of our own. In the Easter season the Lord reminds and invites us to be His instruments of healing. Like Peter and John we may not have silver and gold to distribute but we do have the name of Jesus.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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