Third Sunday of Easter, Lectionary: 47

April 14, 2018

Reading 1 Acts 3:13-15, 17-19

Peter said to the people:
“The God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus,
whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence
when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One
and asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
Now I know, brothers,
that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did;
but God has thus brought to fulfillment
what he had announced beforehand
through the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

-Now that Lent is over the call to repent, to re-think continues.  St. Peter is quite blunt in his declarations.  I wonder how well that approach would go over in our parishes these days?  Diplomacy has its place but ultimately each of us must make the hard choice: my will or God’s will, my way or His way. Even if you believe you have already made the choice for God, it must be repeated each day countless times.  A bride and groom make their vows when they marry but they need to renew them constantly as well.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9

  1. (7a) Lord, let your face shine on us.
    R. Alleluia.
    When I call, answer me, O my just God,
    you who relieve me when I am in distress;
    have pity on me, and hear my prayer!
    R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
    R. Alleluia.
    Know that the LORD does wonders for his faithful one;
    the LORD will hear me when I call upon him.
    R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
    R. Alleluia.
    O LORD, let the light of your countenance shine upon us!
    You put gladness into my heart.
    R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
    R. Alleluia.
    As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep,
    for you alone, O LORD,
    bring security to my dwelling.
    R. Lord, let your face shine on us.
    R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 1 Jn 2:1-5a

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.
The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep
his commandments.
Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments
are liars, and the truth is not in them.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.

-Just how does Christ expiate our sins? Through His obedient love of the Father on our behalf.  Obedience is one of those virtues we like those under us to have but can be a very low priority for ourselves.  One of my favorite books is entitled, “99 Annoying Attributes of God” and there I learned that “delayed obedience is disobedience”.  Ouch!

Alleluia Cf. Lk 24:32

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us;
    make our hearts burn while you speak to us.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 24:35-48

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?

And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

-The fact of the Resurrection is not news to you and me because we were around last year for the same celebration but for the disciples this was a completely “out of the box” experience.  Even when Jesus raised someone from the dead, they just came back to the life they had before dying.  In this case, Jesus came back in a form that was so different that they did not know Him at first. He appears out of nowhere and even showing His wounds is not enough to convince them that he is alive.  His “glorified body” is perhaps best described from His appearance at the Transfiguration, but even that was not enough to prepare them for this event.  Previously, life was considered cyclic, a closed circle.  We go through the seasons of the year, people are born, grow and die.  Now this cycle is broken by the possibility of a life beyond death, of a communion beyond physical proximity.  In the past, we have sinned, then repented but somewhere down the road we returned to sin and after a while we wonder what good it does to repent?   Pray for the grace to see what in your own life is still in a closed cycle and to allow Christ to break through with a new possibility for your life.   

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

Inspiration is the process by which God breathes into the mind and heart of the authors of the Scriptures so that they write in accordance with the mind and heart of God.  It is also at work when one seeks to hear God when the Scriptures are proclaimed or read privately.  Sadly, the Bible is often read like any other book, and even measured like other literature.  Beg for the grace of openness to hear the voice of God directed to you right here and now.  Let God open your mind to the meaning of His Word so that you will not only understand the written Word of God but also know the God-given meaning of the events of your life.

-A Witness is someone who speaks from personal experience.  A doctor can treat cancer even if he or she never had that particular disease.  A teacher can teach from academic learning, but there is a very powerful difference between these and those who have first-hand experience.  Now, the events of Scripture are 2,000 years old.  How can you or I be a witness?  By telling your own story of how you came to know and love God, how you have felt His love for you in the forgiveness of your sins, seen His hand in the events of your life.  Now, if you say that you do not have such a story to tell, ask someone to share their story with you and you may discover your own in the process.

-Some time ago, I had a conversation with a friend who was in a time of deep doubt about God and it was mixed with depression and anxiety.  At that time, I asked him if he trusted me.  Affirming this I asked him if he knew that I believed, which he also affirmed.  That settled, I invited him to borrow my faith until he recovered his own.  He began to act as if the Gospel were true, based on my conviction and before long his own faith was restored. 

-On this topic I am perhaps a broken record but I am deeply convinced that the failure of catechesis over the past 50 years in the Catholic Church was not just switching off from the Baltimore Catechism, but from the failure on the part of parents and god-parents to simply share their own story, their personal witness of how God has impacted their lives.   The first 1,500 years of the Catholic Church had no easy availability of Bibles or books of any kind but there was the wealth of personal experience that was passed on openly and generously.  Please consider putting your own story in writing and passing it on to your family and friends as part of your legacy.  Let no fear of appearing prideful or any sense of shame keep you from this important task.


Father John

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