3 Easter, April 15
Go into your room, shut the door, and study in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will help you. Read, mark, and inwardly digest. Let questions arise, let consolations come, let trouble begin. Hold and use a pen as John Henry Newman did at prayer. Pull down dictionaries and commentaries. Inspect and read the trail. Revise and renew. Do not resist your petty thoughts, your impetuous conclusions, and your droning on of words. Let them surface and let them go. Learn how to hear boredom so it may pass. Listen for interest, energy, and life. Watch for a reasonable hope and a rational love. How will you lift up hearts in 15 minutes?
Inspiration is never mere bluster. A slow simmer and a quiet gaze and some concession to problems will settle the hearer and win trust. These words have filled the room: “When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites, 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, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected … you rejected the Holy and Righteous One … and you killed the Author of life’” (Acts. 3:12-15). Peter, a Jew, stands in the midst of Jews, saying that “faith in his name, his name itself, has made this man strong.” Healing comes through the name of the Lord Jesus, the one who rests in the bosom of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is, for our New Testament writer, an inter-Jewish story, and thus cannot be an anti-Jewish story, though, as we know, such words have been and — God forbid — may be deployed again with demonic consequence.
“You acted in ignorance, as did your rulers,” Peter says, mindful, no doubt, of his own denial of Jesus. “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). About this “there is no distinction” (Rom. 3:22). All refers to the entire human family; it never refers to an identifiable group of the guilty. We should feel grave concern that nativist populism targets perceived outsiders as the cause of nearly every social woe and that this garners from within the Church. Jesus is the recapitulation of the entire human family, and therefore the gathering of all into the Father’s love. God’s love endures. An informed Christian would not dare limit “justification by grace as a gift” to an overt and public profession of faith. Finally, a Christian will listen to and gratefully receive wisdom and knowledge from any culture or people as a gift from God.
In a better world, such things would not need to be said. But they must be said to make the world better. Christianity is not a search for the guilty, but is God’s gift of salvation through his Son, a mystery into which we have been engrafted and privilege to know but not privileged to exhaust.
Judge not. Trust the Lord. Put gladness in your heart. Lie down and sleep in peace. Be a child of God. Open your mind to his name in all nations (Ps. 4; 1 John 1:3; Luke 4:27). The full joy of the resurrection is a full joy in all creation, in all peoples who fear God and do what is right (Acts 10:35).
Look It Up
Read Acts 3:15.
Think About It
Discomfort gives rise to thought.