I wonder sometimes if I am like that man sitting at the Beautiful Gate. I wonder if you are like him as well, and maybe even the entire Parish and Church are too.
The readings at daily Mass in this wonderful season reflect a variety of stories of the early Christian community coming to grips with the astonishing news that Jesus Christ is alive! The Risen Christ appears to His disciples in various places and gently He urges them not to be afraid and to prepare to go forth.
Our Church was born from very humble beginnings. That small group of frightened men, ashamed, disillusioned and sad, hiding in the upper room for fear they might be called upon to share the same fate as Jesus eventually became emboldened and courageous. In fact one scene that jumps out at me is described in the Acts of the Apostles (3:1-10) when Peter and John are going up to the temple at the 3 o'clock hour for prayer. As they approach the Beautiful Gate they encounter a crippled man who daily sits there begging. The man looks to Peter and John for some money, and Peter addresses him, "Look at me. Neither silver nor gold have I, but what I have I will give you. In the name of Jesus Christ, stand up and walk." Peter gives the fellow a hand, literally, and the fellow gets up, jumps and dances and praises the Lord!
I wonder sometimes if I am like that man sitting at the Beautiful Gate. I wonder if you are like him as well, and maybe even the entire Parish and Church are too. I mean, we sit each day looking for whatever we think we need to go forward in life: money, health, relationships, success in whatever form, and maybe we are even a bit crippled because we think we are lacking in that "something". Our focus is on getting that THING, and we think ourselves disabled until we do.
Perhaps in our daily prayers we are inclined to ask God for all that STUFF that we think we must have in order to no longer be crippled. Just like the man sitting at the Beautiful Gate, when God calls us, we look intently at Him expecting that we are going to get our STUFF. In fact, God's response may be that we should listen to Peter: "Hey, look at me! I don't have that stuff, but what I do have, I freely give you. In the name of Jesus Christ, GET UP -- GET GOING!"
The Easter message is one for all of us to cherish as we listen to the Alleluias and Hosannas and sit by the Beautiful Gate.
Father James Ronan is pastor of St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena parish in Charlestown, Massachusetts
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