Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Acts 3 - A call to repentance

Healing of Aeneas.jpg
Masolino di Panicale c1383-1440
Acts 3 recounts:
  • the healing of the lame man by Peter and John (verses 1-11);
  • St Peter's homily to the crowd on the miracle (verses 12-25).
I'm going to particularly focus on the latter part of the homily, a call to repentance.

 The healing of the lame man:
Acts 3: Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, which is an hour of prayer, 2 when a man was carried by who had been lame from birth. Every day he was put down at what is called the Beautiful Gate of the temple, so that he could beg alms from the temple visitors. 3 And he asked Peter and John, as he saw them on their way into the temple, if he might have alms from them. 4 Peter fastened his eyes on him, as John did too, and said, Turn towards us; 5 and he looked at them attentively, hoping that something would be given him. 6 Then Peter said to him, Silver and gold are not mine to give, I give thee what I can. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. 7 So, taking him by his right hand, he lifted him up; and with that, strength came to his feet and ankles; 8 he sprang up, and began walking, and went into the temple with them, walking, and leaping, and giving praise to God. 9 All the people, as they saw him walking and praising God, 10 recognized him for the man who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and were full of wonder and bewilderment at what had befallen him. 11 And he would not let go of Peter and John, so that all the crowd gathered about them in what is called Solomon’s Porch, beside themselves with wonder.
 Petrus autem et Joannes ascendebant in templum ad horam orationis nonam. 2 Et quidam vir, qui erat claudus ex utero matris suæ, bajulabatur: quem ponebant quotidie ad portam templi, quæ dicitur Speciosa, ut peteret eleemosynam ab introëuntibus in templum. 3 Is cum vidisset Petrum et Joannem incipientes introire in templum, rogabat ut eleemosynam acciperet. 4 Intuens autem in eum Petrus cum Joanne, dixit: Respice in nos. 5 At ille intendebat in eos, sperans se aliquid accepturum ab eis. 6 Petrus autem dixit: Argentum et aurum non est mihi: quod autem habeo, hoc tibi do: in nomine Jesu Christi Nazareni surge, et ambula. 7 Et apprehensa manu ejus dextera, allevavit eum, et protinus consolidatæ sunt bases ejus et plantæ. 8 Et exiliens stetit, et ambulabat: et intravit cum illis in templum ambulans, et exiliens, et laudans Deum. 9 Et vidit omnis populus eum ambulantem et laudantem Deum. 10 Cognoscebant autem illum, quod ipse erat qui ad eleemosynam sedebat ad Speciosam portam templi: et impleti sunt stupore et extasi in eo quod contigerat illi. 11 Cum teneret autem Petrum et Joannem, cucurrit omnis populus ad eos ad porticum quæ appellatur Salomonis, stupentes.
Chrysostom (homily 8): ...Why now did they go up to the temple? Did they still live as Jews? No, but for expediency (χρησίμως). A miraculous sign again takes place, which both confirms the converts, and draws over the rest; and such, as they were a sign for having wrought...And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up. Acts 3:7 Such was also the way of Christ. Often He healed by word, often by an act, often also He stretched forth the hand, where men were somewhat weak in faith, that the cure might not appear to be spontaneous. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up. This act made manifest the Resurrection, for it was an image of the Resurrection. And immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked. Acts 3:8 Perhaps it was by way of trying himself that he put it thus to further proof, whether perchance the thing done might not be to no purpose. His feet were weak; it was not that he had lost them. Some say that he did not even know how to walk. And entered with them into the temple. Of a truth it was marvellous. The Apostles do not urge him; but of his own accord he follows, by the act of following pointing out his benefactors. And leaping and praising God; not admiring them, but God that wrought by them. The man was grateful.
Acts: 12 Peter, when he saw it, addressed himself to the people; Men of Israel, he said, why does this astonish you? Why do you fasten your eyes on us, as if we had enabled him to walk through some power or virtue of our own? 13 It is the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our forefathers, who has thus brought honour to his Son Jesus. You gave him up, and disowned him in the presence of Pilate, when Pilate’s voice was for setting him free. 14 You disowned the holy, the just, and asked for the pardon of a murderer, 15 while you killed the author of life. But God has raised him up again from the dead, and we are here to bear witness of it. 16 Here is a man you all know by sight, who has put his faith in that name, and that name has brought him strength; it is the faith which comes through Jesus that has restored him to full health in the sight of you all. 17 Come then, brethren, I know that you, like your rulers, acted in ignorance; 18 but God has fulfilled in this way what was foretold by all the prophets about the sufferings of his Christ. 
The call to repentance:
Acts 3: 19 Repent, then, and turn back to him, to have your sins effaced, 20 against the day when the Lord sees fit to refresh our hearts. Then he will send out Jesus Christ, who has now been made known to you, 21 but must have his dwelling-place in heaven until the time when all is restored anew, the time which God has spoken of by his holy prophets from the beginning. 22 Thus, Moses said, The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among your own brethren; to him, to every word of his, you must listen. 23 It is ordained that everyone who will not listen to the voice of that prophet shall be lost to his people.24 And all the prophets who spoke to you, from Samuel onwards, have foretold those days. 25 You are the heirs of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, when he said to Abraham, Every race on earth shall receive a blessing through thy posterity. 26 It is to you first of all that God has sent his Son, whom he raised up from the dead to bring you a blessing, to turn away every one of you from his sins.
19 Pœnitemini igitur et convertimini, ut deleantur peccata vestra: 20 ut cum venerint tempora refrigerii a conspectu Domini, et miserit eum qui prædicatus est vobis, Jesum Christum, 21 quem oportet quidem cælum suscipere usque in tempora restitutionis omnium quæ locutus est Deus per os sanctorum suorum a sæculo prophetarum. 22 Moyses quidem dixit: Quoniam prophetam suscitabit vobis Dominus Deus vester de fratribus vestris, tamquam me: ipsum audietis juxta omnia quæcumque locutus fuerit vobis. 23 Erit autem: omnis anima quæ non audierit prophetam illum, exterminabitur de plebe. 24 Et omnes prophetæ, a Samuel et deinceps, qui locuti sunt, annuntiaverunt dies istos. 25 Vos estis filii prophetarum, et testamenti quod disposuit Deus ad patres nostros, dicens ad Abraham: Et in semine tuo benedicentur omnes familiæ terræ. 26 Vobis primum Deus suscitans filium suum, misit eum benedicentem vobis: ut convertat se unusquisque a nequitia sua.
Chrysostom (Homily 9): Repent ye therefore, he says, and be converted. He does not add, from your sins; but, that your sins, may be blotted out, means the same thing. And then he adds the gain: So shall the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord. Acts 3:19 This betokens them in a sad state, brought low by many wars. For it is to the case of one on fire, and craving comfort, that the expression applies. And see now how he advances. In his first sermon, he but slightly hinted at the resurrection, and Christ's sitting in heaven; but here he also speaks of His visible advent. And He shall send Jesus the Christ ordained (for you), Whom the heaven must (i.e. must of necessity) receive, until the times of the restitution of all things....

Then also, on the other hand, he says, as matter of encomium (so that for this reason also ye ought to obey): You are the children of the prophets and of the covenant: i.e. heirs. Then why do you stand affected towards that which is your own, as if it were another's? True, you have done deeds worthy of condemnation; still you may yet obtain pardon. Having said this, with reason he is now able to say, Unto you God sent his Son Jesus to bless you. He says not, To save you, but what is greater; that the crucified Jesus blessed His crucifiers.

Let us then also imitate Him. Let us cast out that spirit of murder and enmity. It is not enough not to retaliate (for even in the Old Dispensation this was exemplified); but let us do all as we would for bosom-friends, as we would for ourselves so for those who have injured us. We are followers of Him, we are His disciples, who after being crucified, sets everything in action in behalf of his murderers, and sends out His Apostles to this end. And yet we have often suffered justly; but those acted not only unjustly, but impiously; for He was their Benefactor, He had done no evil, and they crucified Him. And for what reason? For the sake of their reputation. But He Himself made them objects of reverence. The scribes and the pharisees sit in Moses' seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that do ye, but after their works do ye not. Matthew 23:2 And again in another place, Go your way, show yourself to the priest. Matthew 8:4 Besides, when He might have destroyed them, He saves them. Let us then imitate Him, and let no one be an enemy, no one a foe, except to the devil.

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