My dear friends today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles follows on from the drama that has just unfolded over the previous 24 hours. Peter and John were on their way to the Temple when they see a crippled man who couldn’t walk. He was sat in the same place every day at the entrance so that he could beg from the people going in. Peter says to that man “I have neither silver nor gold, but will give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ – get up and walk”. The man, no longer crippled, does just that and goes walking and jumping into the Temple praising God.
Many people had seen and heard Peter’s words and witnessed what had happened to the man and that small emerging Christian community grew to five thousand people. But there was also a group of people who were unhappy – and that group consisted of the priests and the leaders of the Temple. This group had the two apostles arrested to be put on trial the next day. So, in the same way as priests and elders had accused Jesus and had called a trial, we see the scene repeating again but this time with Peter and John. The apostles were in the hall surrounded by all of those rulers, the learned elders – the Great Sanhedrin of Jerusalem – the Supreme Court and they ask “By what name did you do this?” Peter answers, filled with the Holy Spirit, that he did it in the name of Jesus Christ who God raised from the dead.
Peter moves the focus from the healing of the cripple to what the event really signified, the power of the risen Jesus. Having been jailed overnight and in the face of hostile questioning by the Jewish leaders Peter has proclaimed the resurrection. He stresses that the stone that they rejected, Jesus, has now become the cornerstone of a new building, a new Church. The risen Jesus is the one and only Saviour.
The final words that we hear from the reading is for me the most striking, that there is no salvation through anyone else but God. Listening to today’s reading we are called to recognise that it is God that saves us and invites each one of us to share in his life.