Let’s set the stage for today’s first reading. Peter has just healed a man who had been lame from birth. Thrilled at his healing, the man begins jumping for joy in the Temple. Everyone is astonished. Everyone, that is, but Peter. “Why are you amazed at this?” he asks (Acts 3:12). Surely he was happy, but he seems more surprised at their astonishment than at the miracle itself!
So why would Peter be so unsurprised? Perhaps the answer comes in his words to the crowd. At least three times, Peter announces something more astonishing than this miracle: after all that we did to Jesus, God raised him from the dead and gave him back to us as our Savior.
“The author of life you put to death,” he says, “but God raised him” (Acts 3:15). It was a stunning reversal that no one saw coming. God repaid our cruelty with his divine love. Through the drama of Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost, Peter learned how merciful and generous God is. Remember, Peter had denied Jesus and fled at his arrest. He, the “Rock” of the Church, crumbled in fear. And still, Jesus forgave him and welcomed him back. So, after all this, nothing could astonish Peter any more. He knew that God wanted only good for his people. This is the astonishingly good news of the gospel: God is relentless in his mercy. He takes our worst sins to himself, wipes them away, and gives us healing and forgiveness instead of punishment and retribution. At Mass today, remember that no matter how bad your sins are, no matter what you think you deserve, God has just one answer for you. In yet another stunning reversal, he offers you his Son, Jesus, in the humble form of bread and wine.