Consumed With Grace

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It is a nice thought to be bold towards others when it is only in thought, but quite another to be bold with those who are not loving towards us.  But if we rise to such occasion, we are then a light in the world as we walk in the light.

Such is the occasion that I want to cover in this blog entry but often in others as well.  Two blogs ago, we see Peter and John deal with a marginalized, disable person with equality, grace and being practical with his physical need.  This was great.  Last blog, we see Peter talking straight to the crowd that a few years ago were likely okay with the crucifixion of Jesus.  Peter is gracious to a large group as well and treats them with a perspective of them not knowing what they did and there is room for God’ forgiveness.  God is the God of second chances.  These are two degrees of being a light.

For those of us who are Catholics, there has been a lot of talk about the New Evangelization.  I have not read too much of the related encyclicals, but I suspect much of it is a renewal of the fervor we see in the “Old Evangelization” we see here.  I can also see where Pope Francis is onto the same principles described below.  And now, without further ado, here is a third degree of dedication in this cause to a third degree.

While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening…The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John,and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.’12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them

This is important.  Peter had been filled with the Holy Spirit through a decision to follow the word of Jesus (see Acts 2).  Peter had a level of dependence on God for the right words that started with His indwelling.

by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.

Peter had a message of Jesus in the context of the cross and the resurrection.  What I have heard from Dr. Scott Hahn, and makes increasing sense to a new Catholic like myself, is that preaching Christ crucified is preaching a gospel that is Eucharistic in nature.  That is that He can be received in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in communion because of that ultimate act of self-giving of Jesus on the cross.

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. 14 When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. 16 They said, “What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. ….19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; 20 for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21 After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…

When is the last time we were bold about anything?  Our favorite soda? Movie?  Politician?  Or what about trying to have an expert opinion?  And what is “expertise”?

In this context, boldness is a very pregnant word.  They were noted in their boldness from healing the beggar, to preaching the grace of Jesus to the crowd.

…and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they… recognized them as companions of Jesus.

Those characteristics included being relational to the marginalized and speaking truth to the multitudes.  They were imitating the nature of Jesus in being comfortable in their own skin with anyone and everyone.

The last element from the story is unpleasant but relevant for anyone that wants to carry the sufferings of Jesus fully to the world: being willing to go to the death for testimony of Jesus.

Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.

Peter was one half of the duo laying their lives down for Jesus.  He does this, as seen above, “filled with the Holy Spirit”.  Without that encounter, Peter lacked the courage to not deny Jesus to a servant girl.  But with that encounter a few years later there is a great difference.  For Peter and John, they had walked with Jesus but continued in Him by teaching according to His revelation, fellowship, communion and prayer (Acts 2:42).  We know Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  So what is stopping us? It is for us to let God re-evangelize us from our complacency in the context of repentance and being filled of Him.  Then we can live and proclaim truth relationally and boldly.

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