Readings: Acts 3:1-10, Ps. 105:1-4,6-9, Luke 24:13-35

“Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.” (Acts 3:6-7)

Recently, I saw a video making rounds on social media where a lady blamed religion for being responsible for social injustice, economic instability, poverty and corruption in the society. For her, by focusing on prayer, the church diverts the attention of citizens from fighting politicians and government officials who loot funds meant for the development of society. The disappointment of this lady can be likened to that of the two disciples who angrily left Jerusalem heading for Emmaus on Easter Sunday.

In their frustration, the two disciples met Jesus on the way but could not recognise him. They complained: “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21). In other words, they were hoping that Jesus would overthrow the Roman authorities (their colonial masters) and become King of Israel. Jesus said to them: “O foolish men…” Why did Jesus call them foolish? This brings us to our lessons for today:

1. Jesus Died to restore us to God, not merely to Put Food on Our Table. At the beginning of His public ministry, Jesus read from Isaiah a passage concerning Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19). Although Jesus worked many miracles demonstrating his concern for our material well-being and physical health, He was more concerned about eternal life. Jesus said to the woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14) Similarly, to those who wanted Jesus to repeat the miracle of the loaves, He said: “Do not labour for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.” (John 6:27). Archbishop Akubeze would say: “Jesus did not die to end all suffering; He did to teach us how to suffer.”

2. Stop Asking God’s Ministers for Perishable Food: Like the lame man who asked for alms, we would always be disappointed with the church until we realised that Jesus did not establish the church to replace the government. Learn to stop asking your priests for things the government can provide. The church never said we shouldn’t fight for our rights, but we must remember that the church is not an arm of the government. One day, a young man met Jesus and said: “Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus answered: “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” (Luke 12:13-14) Like this man, we often pray to God for silver and gold instead of asking for imperishable food. How often do we ask for a deeper faith, holiness, repentance, and relationship with God?

3. Prayer is Not Useless: I once told someone who begged for money, “I don’t have any money right now, but I will pray for you.” The person hissed and said: “Am I going to eat the prayer?” He didn’t know that prayer is more powerful than money and that I was honest when I said I didn’t have any money. Don’t be carried away by those ministers who brandish wealth; most of us are poor, but we do not complain because we know that what we have is more than silver and gold. By healing the lame man, Peter gave him something beyond silver and gold – freedom from paralysis. This man would no longer need to be carried from place to place. He would provide for himself. Value spiritual wealth over financial riches. You may not have all the money you crave, but as long as you have God, you have everything.

4. Studying the Bible Gives Meaning to Our Lives: Whenever you are confused or troubled like these two disciples, seek light from the scriptures. Jesus spoke to two disciples about the way their hearts burned within them. Studying God’s Words is therapy; understanding the scriptures heals us physically and psychologically. Beginning with Moses and all the prophets, Jesus explained to them why the Messiah needed to have suffered and died on the cross. When they got to the town, they did not want Jesus to go because they wanted more. They urged Jesus to stay with them. At the breaking of the bread (during prayer), the two disciples’ eyes were opened. When they recognised Jesus, the disciples who had left Jerusalem in disappointment ran back to Jerusalem. If God opens our eyes to see what happens during the Holy Eucharist, we will weep for taking it for granted. We will sing: “You take the whole world, and give me Jesus. You take the whole world and give me Jesus; you take the whole world and give me Jesus. I’m satisfied, I’m satisfied.”

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, help me value my faith and deepen my devotion to your presence in the Holy Eucharist. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Easter Wednesday. Bible Study: Acts 3:1-10, Ps. 105:1-4, 6-9, Luke 24:13-35).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu