Transformation not Information- Tuesday, first week of Easter- Acts 2:36-41

The first homily delivered in the newly established ‘Church’ on Pentecost was delivered by Peter. Far from being a pepped up one, it seems to be a very long theological discourse which quotes the Psalms as reference. To the modern reader, this may seem barely intelligible if not boring, and yet the results are spectacular.

The Jews listening to Peter are ‘cut to the heart’ and ask Peter and the other eleven apostles what should they do? This “cutting to the heart” is a conversion by conviction. Imagine if every homily preached from the pulpit ended with our congregations asking, “What should I do?” We would have a long line in the confessional for those already baptized!

Peter holds nothing back and immediately demands two actions that would bring about a change – that they repent, be baptized. The goal of Peter is not merely to dispense information, but to lead the Jews to make application and bring them to transformation. This baptism of repentance would absolve them of their sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, thus being saved ‘from this corrupt generation’.

The first thing that strikes you is the desire of those listening to Peter to set things straight. Setting things right involves repentance (metanoeō), which calls for a new way of thinking. It also calls for baptism for the forgiveness of sins; so the neophytes had to look at Christian living as a new way of living which involved the renunciation of sin. Thus guided by the gift at baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit, they would be able to make a right choice to reject the corrupt generation of Satan. 

Perhaps the words of Peter sound all too familiar and you are right, for the words that we read in  vv. 38-40 recall Luke’s description of John the Baptizer, someone else who preached imminent judgment (Luke 3:3-18).

For some, this message of Easter almost smacks of the theme of Lent, namely repentance. The greatest gift of joy that we could ever receive, is the grace to be repentant of our failings, for the blessings received are shared by us and our household. The gift of the Holy Spirit for all who repent, is a gift promised to the person, to their children, and for all who are far away, and for everyone whom the Lord God calls to Him.

Fr Warner D’Souza

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