Peter’s first two sermons in the “Acts of the Apostles” (Acts 2:14-40; 3:12-26) follow immediately on two significant events. The first event was the day of Pentecost, when the mighty wind of the Holy Spirit swept into the upper room and transformed everyone gathered there into bold witnesses of the Gospel. The second event seems less significant in the great sweep of history, but it also demonstrates the work of God. Peter and John met a lame beggar at the temple gate who asked them for alms. Instead of gold, however, Peter gave him the ability to walk. The man followed Peter and John into the temple “walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:8).

This healing naturally drew a crowd of people, and Peter took the opportunity to speak again about Jesus the Messiah. Reaching into the tradition of God’s promises to His people, Peter said that it was “the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob,” working through His Son Jesus (Acts 3:13), who had performed this miracle. He reminded them that when Moses gave the law, he had promised that God would raise up “from your own people a prophet like me” (Acts 3:22; Deuteronomy 18:15). Jesus was that promised prophet, and the miracle they witnessed attested to this truth.

Peter proclaimed that the man was healed by faith in Jesus’ name (Acts 3:16), and this faith was available to them. When he called them to “repent, therefore, and turn again” (Acts 3:19), Peter was inviting them to turn from sin and embrace Jesus in faith, accepting baptism in His name. If only they would repent and convert, they too would be filled with the Spirit and transformed just as Peter and the lame man had been.

Peter said further that God wanted to pour out “times of refreshing” through Jesus (Acts 3:19). This promise remains true for us, the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). Jesus is the promised Messiah, and when we turn to Him and receive Him in our hearts, we too are refreshed by the wind of the Holy Spirit as we receive and experience all the promises God has made.

Jakarta, 24 April 2014

A Christian Pilgrim


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KIS 1 PETRUS DAN YOHANES MENYEMBUHKAN ORANG LUMPUHTHE healing of the lame man at the temple is the first miracle Luke recounts which the apostles performed in Jesus’ name. This miracle – along with all the others we will read about – shows the fulfillment of Peter’s words at Pentecost, that signs and wonders would accompany the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:19). The crowd, unaware of the true source of this power, focused their awe on the human healers. But Luke emphasized the fact that this miracle was the work of God, who used Peter and John as His instruments.

In faith, the apostles prayed in Jesus’ name, asking the Father to heal the lame man. This healing did not occur through the manipulation of a god obligated to men, nor was it accomplished through the strength of Peter’s piety. Rather, Peter, a forgiven sinner (Luke 5:8), called upon the power of Jesus’ name to heal according to the will of God. Because they were accomplished through the name of Jesus, the signs and wonders that accompanied the apostles pointed the Jews beyond the apostles to Jesus Himself.

Any faithful Jew would have known the promises God made through His prophets, promises of healing and restoration which would occur at a future time of blessing and anointing (Isaiah 35:5-6; Zephaniah 3:19). They would have recognized a work done “in the name” of Jesus as a sign that God was at work in Him. Though many rejected Jesus, this miracle demonstrated that the Father favored Him and raised Him from the dead. Now that the apostles had drawn the crowd’s attention, they were able to preach the full truth about Jesus, inviting them to embrace the One who had done such a marvelous work.

In the book of Acts, Luke focuses on the God who heals, not on those who pray for healing. God still works through His people to heal the sick. When we pray in Jesus’ name we are professing our belief that He is God, and that He has the power and authority to heal the sick and bring life to all.

Jakarta, 23 April 2014

A Christian Pilgrim


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PETRUS BERKHOTBAH PADA HARI PENTAKOSTAWhen Peter preached to the crowds on Pentecost Sunday, Luke tells us that his hearers were “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37). What does it mean to be cut to the heart? We are cut to the heart when the Holy Spirit takes words being preached, or the words we read in Scripture, or our thoughts in prayer and uses them to penetrate our hearts. We are cut to the heart when we find ourselves welcoming the message, embracing its truth, and being moved to action. We are cut to the heart when everything within us says, “Yes!” to what we have heard.

Those who heard Peter preach were converted. Conversion means “to accept the saving sovereignty of Christ and become His disciples.” But this kind of conversion that stems from being cut to the heart – is not a once-off event. God wants to pierce our hearts with His love over and over again so that we will become more and more like His Son. In other words, conversion is ongoing.

We all have areas in our lives that are not yet fully yielded to the Lord. In some cases, we haven’t dealt with them yet because we don’t want to give them up. But in many more cases, we simply are not ready to make a change. Fortunately, God is patient and kind. He is committed to bringing to completion the good work that he began in us at baptism (Philippians 1:6). Our loving Father will not give up on us.

Every day, God wants to fill us with a fresh, new experience of His love and mercy. He wants to keep touching us so that the good work He started at our baptism can deepen and bring us to greater and greater transformation. But for that to happen, we need to allow His grace to pierce our hearts. We need to focus our attention on our Father’s boundless love for us. Then, with hearts softened by His love, we will be open to the power of the Holy Spirit to cut us to the heart again and again.

Jakarta, 22 April 2014

A Christian Pilgrim


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PETRUS BERKHOTBAH - 100THE Book of Acts – which we will be reading throughout this Easter season – is so much more than a history of the early Church. It’s a book about the power of the Holy Spirit! Throughout its pages, we read how the Holy Spirit worked through regular people to make them into bold apostles and witnesses to Christ. Because it speaks about so many lives being powerfully transformed, Acts also gives us hope and encouragement for our lives. What happened in the apostles can happen in us as well!

Today’s reading describes the first of many scenes in Acts in which the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to build the Church on earth. This passage also describes the first fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy before He ascended into heaven: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Here, in Jerusalem, Peter preached, and thousands came to believe.

As Acts progresses, we will read how Peter and other disciples, like Stephen, preached the Gospel in Jerusalem and the surrounding area of Judea. Then, the focus will shift to Philip, who spread the Gospel even farther when he proclaimed Christ in Samaria. Finally, we will witness Paul bringing the message and the power of salvation throughout Asia Minor, then into Greece, and lastly to Rome and “the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And in every scene, we can see the Holy Spirit working powerfully through these anointed messengers of God.

Stories like the ones recorded in Acts continue to happen today through the Spirit-anointed preaching and witness of Jesus’ disciples. Each of us has received the Holy Sprit to witness to Jesus and to help spread the Gospel. So as the Easter season unfolds, let us (you and I) to fill each of us with His Spirit and to make us into His witnesses. He desires it and will surely help us to fulfill our calling.

Jakarta, 21 April 2014

A Christian Pilgrim


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KEBANGKITAN - YESUS BANGKIT EASTER is the celebration of what Pope Paul VI described as “the unique and sensational event on which the whole of human history turns.”

Scripture has no account of the actual happening of the resurrection of Jesus. We are told of the discovery of the empty tomb and of the appearance of the risen Lord to various disciples. By means of these appearances the disciples are led into making the huge step of faith from following the man, Jesus of Nazareth, to believing that He was the Son of God who triumphed over death.

It was as if somebody who could walk suddenly found the ability to fly. Resurrection life is as much (and more) above ordinary, earthly life as flying is above walking. Faith is such a leap forward from the human level of life to participation in divine life. (Fr. Silvester O’Flynn OFMCap.)

The tomb is empty: Jesus Christ is risen: and the story of humanity will never be the same again.

There is a very puzzling line in the old translation of the Apostles’ Creed” “He descended into hell.” It is a phrase that locates Jesus on that Sabbath between the dying and the rising.

The word “hell” in this instance is not a reference to the state of eternal damnation. The originally meant a hiding place. Later it acquired a more precise application to the hidden abode of the dead. The phrase in the creed expresses the belief that Jesus liberated the souls of the just who had died before His time.

KEBANGKITAN - 1 - DI KUBUR YANG SUDAH KOSONGIn an apocalyptic reflection on the death of Jesus, Matthew’s Gospel states: “The rocks were split; the tombs opened and the bodies of many holy men rose from the dead, and these, after His resurrection, came out of the tombs, entered the Holy City and appeared to a number of people” (Matthew 27:52-53).

The notion of Jesus opening up he hiding places of the dead is relevant to all the caves of darkness where we hid in pain from the fullness of light. In His dying He destroyed our death: by His wounds He heals our wounds: by His lying in the tomb He has visited all our private tombs.

We descend into the tomb of darkness whenever the reality of life is too painful for us to endure. The quality of our living is diminished, we are emotionally crippled and mentally stagnated.

Is your cave of darkness due to the pain of bereavement? Then reflect on the fullness of life released for us by the victory of Jesus. And remember how He experienced the pain of family farewell as His mother’s heart was pierced by the sword of sorrow.

Is your dark cave is due to experiences of misunderstanding, misrepresentation, or malicious conspiracy, just remember that Jesus was in there before you. He was the victim of religious envy, a political pawn and He was betrayed by one who had shared the covenant meal with Him.

KEBANGKITAN - 8 KUBUR KOSONGHis suffering was a physical nature in the hundred inventions of cruelty unleashed upon Him: He suffered intense mental anguish: and He even visited the dark realm of spiritual suffering.

He was condemned in court to hang with convicted criminals, mocked in ungrateful tribute to His works of healing, and stripped bare of the very garments of human dignity. Is there any form of private hell He did not visit?

Whatever your tomb, your hiding place, your private hell, come out of it this Easter day. In the light and power of the risen Christ, leave behind you an empty tomb.

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, what a beautiful life you have given me! Let me sing of the glorious hope that comes from your resurrection. And, by the power of Your resurrection, I have left behind my empty tomb. With each day – but especially today – make my joy a gift to you, a grateful acknowledgement of the love You have for me. Amen.

Note: Taken [except for the prayer] from Fr. Silvester O’Flynn OFMCap., The Good News of Matthew’s Year, Dublin, Ireland: Cathedral Books/The Columbia Press, 1989 (1992 reprinting), pages 81-84.

Bandung, 19 April 2014

A Christian Pilgrim


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TODAY we experience the silence of the tomb while Jesus “slept in death,” as if resting from His harrowing passion. Then, tonight at the Easter Vigil, we will proclaim with the Creed that Jesus had descended into hell, trampled its gates, and broken Satan’s stranglehold on the human race. All night, we will wait in anticipation for His resurrection to fee us from the curse of sin and restore us to life in God.

We will also be reminded tonight of the night the Israelites passed on the shores of the Red Sea. Escaping into the desert after the angel of death had passed over them, they found themselves hemmed in, the sea before them and Pharaoh’s troops behind them. There they kept vigil, with a mysterious angel and a pillar of cloud guarding them through the night (Exodus 14:19). How keenly they must have hoped for deliverance! Their lives hung in the balance, and they could only stand firm in faith (Exodus 14:14). There was nothing else they could do. Everything depended on God.

Jesus’ disciples found themselves in a similar situation after his crucifixion. No amount of effort – not Peter’s grief at denying his Master nor the women’s kindly preparations to anoint Jesus’ body with spices – could bring the Master back to life. There was nothing they could do bug wait. But it is precisely here, at the end of all human resources, that God’s power shines through most gloriously. When we were enslaved to the devil, God loosed our chains.

Let us wait on the Lord tonight, expecting His power to move in us. We have only to “keep still,” and He will act on our behalf. Even if we are not able to attend the vigil, let us spend some time this evening “keeping watch” and waiting for the light of Christ to flood our hearts and break into our world. This is the “most blessed of all nights, chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!”

Bandung, 19 April 2014

A Christian Pilgrim


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Bandung, 18 April 2014

A Christian Pilgrim


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