It is said that a tree is known by its fruit and in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we can see that the tree of the resurrection is already bearing amazing fruit! And, here specifically, in the life of Peter.
Peter is boldly addressing the people of Israel. That same man who, not that long ago, denied knowing Jesus, who had run away, who had hidden behind locked doors is now proclaiming Christ publically. Peter has received courage through the resurrection but there is an element to this courage that is important to note. Peter receives the courage of love.
Again, not that long ago, Peter had drawn a sword in defense of Jesus and had struck and wounded another person. But today he is not proclaiming the sword or judgment or retribution. He is proclaiming Christ boldly to all the people of Israel and even those directly responsible for the death of Christ. He is saying that yes, they denied the “Holy and Righteous One” and rather asked for a murderer to be set free but he is also proclaiming that forgiveness and mercy is possible in Christ. To the very ones who killed his lord and master, Peter is offering life and hope in Jesus! He even goes on to say that they acted in ignorance and that by their action God has brought to fulfillment what had been proclaimed beforehand about how his salvation was to be brought into the world.
Peter receives courage through the resurrection of Christ but he also receives a healing of his own heart which allows him to receive and live the courage of love. Peter, when he reminds the people that they asked for the release of a murderer contrasts that with their action of putting the “author of life” to death. It is a specific title and one not used by Peter anywhere else in the Gospels.
Jesus is the “author of life” and in Jesus there is no place for hate, for violence or for retribution. There is only life … only life. To welcome Christ as the author of life means to allow Christ to remove all that is false within our hearts – the desire for hate, and for violence and for retribution. Peter knew the risen Lord and Christ removed these false and evil desires from the heart of Peter. Three times on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, the risen Lord – the author of life – asks Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Three times Peter says “yes”.
It is not just courage that Peter receives in the resurrection of Jesus; it is the courage of love and it comes from knowing and being known by – and loved by – the author of life.
The same courage of love is offered to us and it comes from knowing and allowing ourselves to be known and loved by the author of life.