THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
“While he (the lame man, just healed by the prayer of Peter and John) clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s, astounded. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people, ‘Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name, by faith in his name, has made this man strong whom you see and know; and the faith which is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.’” (Acts 3: 11-16)
In the weeks following Pascha and leading up to Pentecost (the 50th day after Pascha), we have daily readings in our churches from the Book of Acts of the Apostles. This book of the New Testament describes how the Apostles “acted,” and how the Holy Spirit “acted” upon and through them, as a consequence of our Lord’s victory over death in His resurrection.
In the reading for this Bright Saturday, quoted above, we can see that St. Peter, who himself had been so weak in faith that he denied Christ thrice during His passion, is now bringing healing and instruction to others, by his now-renewed and Spirit-strengthened faith. Here, when Peter points out to the people, “…you denied the Holy and Righteous One…,” he is not being hypocritical, as one might think, – because Peter, after all, “also” denied the Holy and Righteous One, during His passion. No, in the event described above, which happened after the risen Lord’s healing conversation with Peter, in which Peter is invited to affirm thrice that he “loves” Christ (Jn 21), and after Peter had been filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2), Peter has learned his own limitations, and the fact that it is not “by our own power or piety” that any follower of Christ can bring about healing, or do any good, in this world. So, Peter hasn’t been brought either to silence or inaction, through his sin. Because he has allowed himself to be healed, both by responding to our Lord Jesus Christ’s forgiving love, and by further sticking around, in the community of Christ’s followers, for the descent of the Holy Spirit.
So let me also stick around, in community and communion with Christ and His followers, whatever “denials” of Christ I have demonstrated in the past. Let me stick around, that I may have that conversation with the Lord, even today, in which I affirm that I love Him; and that I may embrace His Spirit, Whom He sends abundantly upon us every day, when we don’t block Him out. Thank You, God, that it is not “by our own power or piety” that we become useful to ourselves and others, but by faith in You. Let me be in You, and You in me, today, as I re-focus on You, despite my own weaknesses.