Scripture: Acts 3:1-11
Key verse: (6) “Silver and gold have I none, What I do I have I give you, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, stand up and walk.”
Reflection: You pull up to the light and there stands a man holding a sign, “Homeless. Anything helps.” What do you do? There are many options. Ignore the request and don’t make eye contact? Give them some money and ease our own guilt? Buy them something to eat? Offer to buy their sign? Tell them you’re not in a position to help them right now? I’ve done all of these things. Our reading from Acts 3 shares a time that Peter and John encountered a beggar as they were entering the Temple. What did they do? What can we learn from their response?
First, “They looked intently at him.” They pay attention to the man. They see him — not simply as a beggar; not as a person who has lived with a disability his entire life. They see him not as his world saw him — not as a sinner, not as the tragic product of some moral failure, not as less than human, not as someone unfit to come into the Temple as the Levitical code states. They see him as a fellow human being. That’s the first thing Peter and John do in meeting the man at the Beautiful Gate. They see him. They pay attention to him. Perhaps their response can inform ours. Seeing one another as human beings, and not as bums or vagrants. In the case of the beggar, what would it mean for him not to see Peter and John as “marks?” Luke tells us he expected to get some money from them. So he likely saw them only for what he wanted from them, not as fellow human beings. Indeed, these exchanges can be incredibly complex.
But they did not give him money. In fact, Peter and John may have been more broke than this beggar. They’d been hiding in an upper room for weeks and just now gotten back into the flow of things after Pentecost. Who knows the last time they sold any fish? “Silver and gold have I none,” Peter says. He is not lying there. “What I do I have I give you, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” The Greek there is egeiro, which means “arise.” Arise and walk. And, by God, he does.
While I’ve never witnessed a physical healing anything like that, I have seen lives restored to wholeness in the name of Jesus through the life and witness of the church. It happens every day through our ministry partners. It happens in so many ways. It happens in those pastoral moments when broken lives are healed and made whole. It happens in AA meetings when people break loose of the hold of addiction on their lives. It happens when neighbors who are homeless find a path to new life through our ministry partners, like Roof Above. In all these ways and many more. This day may we know the power of God that enables us all to arise and walk in faith.
Prayer: O God, give us faith to look intently at those whose lives are less than whole. Empower us to join your life giving work in the world that all may arise and praise your name. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].