The ‘beautiful’ gate the lame man sat beside was made of fine Corinthian bronze, 75 feet high, with broad double doors so beautifully made that, according to the historian Josephus, they “greatly excelled those that were only covered over with silver and gold.” These architectural marvels likely cost a king’s ransom and took decades to build.
And day by day, a man crippled from birth crawled to them, sat and held out a cup in the hopes that he would receive a few pennies to buy himself some food.
What a terrible indictment of a religion that lost its way! What a testament to religious leaders that had the wealth but not the compassion to care for those who were literally sitting at their gates. What a contrast we see in the humanity and compassion demonstrated by Peter, who insists the man look him in the eye, and offers him not money, but love and a solution.
If we are not careful our churches can easily become like that Temple - extravagant monuments to our own wealth, but completely devoid of love. As we live in and through this current crisis, let us be mindful of those who are in need, and reach out to them as Christ would. Let us demonstrate our faith, not through expensive buildings, but through a spirit of generosity and grace.