Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Acts 3,1-10

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 along. 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.

Peter, and John too, 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!'

Then he took him by the right 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 perplexed at what had happened to him.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This episode describes the first steps the community of the Lord took without the visible presence of the Teacher. Perhaps the apostles remembered Jesus’ first teachings, as reported by Mark in chapter 6: "Then he called the Twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits." Putting these words into practice, Peter and John go to the temple, and it does not matter if John seems not to do anything in the scene. Once again, the problem is not about protagonism but on the indispensable communion of love among the two that is at the origin of their strength and charism, even though, like in this case, it is only Peter who speaks and acts. Their harmony, their love, and their common passion for the Gospel not only are their first testimony, but also the reason of their strength. This is how it should be with every Christian community that wants to follow the Lord Jesus. Peter and John are the first to move, and to move together, and we must continue to follow in their footsteps even today. They arrive at the "Beautiful Gate" of the temple and see a man lame from birth. He is forty years old and has spent the greater part of those years there, reaching out his hands and begging. He has always stayed outside the temple. He was unable to enter, not only because he physically could not walk, but also because of his sickness itself. There was a sad proverb at that time which said: "the blind and the lame shall not enter." Unfortunately the same thing is true today. Many poor people (and whole countries) are forcibly kept out. They are made to stand at the doors of the rich and to be contented with crumbs, with few handouts. The crippled man probably expected nothing more than a little charity from the two disciples. But Peter stopped and "Peter looked intently at him .... said, ‘Look at us.’" His words are almost a request of a direct and loving relationship, a relationship that is deep and continuative. There is already something new: probably that man had never met before someone who stopped to talk to him and asked him to speak together. Many passed by and had thrown few coins at him, but then they had continued each one on his or her own way and had left him in the same spot. This time something new happens: the Gospel demands a new care, an interest that is true, personal, and direct. Charity does not come from an organization, only from conversion. To Christians, the poor are not a social problem but people to look in the eye and to love in order to save them from their sad condition. Peter told that man clearly that they do not have enough money to solve the problem, and yet they have much more: they have the author of life. Peter spoke to that man with the authority of personal love: "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,* stand up and walk." Then he offered him his right hand and raised him up. The Greek word "raised" suggests that he is raised up from the sleep of loneliness and abandonment. Those two hands that crossed show us what the image of the Church should be at the beginning of this new millennium; they mean that the strong bond between is not only an occasional almsgiving (that yet needs to be given), but a committing love. This kind of Gospel love is strong and works miracles.