Third Sunday of Easter(B)


3rd SUNDAY OF EASTER (B) Luke 24: 35-48 - April 15, 2018

Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn while you speak to us

A friend of mine recently bought one of those fancy electronic iPad, built around a multi touch screen and a virtual keyboard of fourth generation, with all kind of apps, communication and entertainment systems, besides of course, the GPS and MP3. Unlike myself, my friend has always been very fit with technology, and I thought that little “toy” would be very easy for him to handle; but he told me that this has been the most difficult electronic device he has ever had to learn about. I wonder how many times he would have asked for help.

To learn in theory about the resurrection is fairly easy, but to experience somebody rising from the dead I am sure is very puzzling. When Jesus predicted his resurrection, before his death, the disciples did not understand a thing; and when they saw that their Master was raised from the dead, it was not very easy for them; they must have been very confused. Jesus appears to his disciples at different moments and in different situations. As we hear in the Gospel today, he takes his time to explain what has happened, in a simple way. The disciples are not too educated people and we may think they are kind of slow learners; they are in the process of learning a totally new experience of a totally new “other.” So, we cannot put the blame on them, like in any learning process, they are confused.

The Gospel today still pictures Jesus on that first Easter Sunday of his Resurrection. Two of his disciples have returned to Jerusalem, after their journey to Emmaus and tell their friends 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.´" He asks them to look at him and to touch him. After assuring them that he is the same Jesus they knew before his crucifixion, he eats some baked fish in front of them. No ghost can eat, and so by eating he demonstrates the fact of his real bodily resurrection.

Jesus then patiently explains how the Scriptures revealed that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. The conclusion is that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. With this chapter 24 Luke concludes his gospel with the appearance of Jesus to his disciples and the declaration that his disciples and the rest of the Church´s history are "witnesses to these things," and these final words of Jesus in today’s Gospel are intended for us just as much as they were intended for the disciples. Finally Jesus promises, "And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."

The three readings in our liturgy this Sunday,together with Jesus´ resurrection, emphasize the need on repentance and forgiveness. The effect of the resurrection has a redemptive value. Since then on, the mission of the Church has been to preach repentance. In the strong message of today´s first reading, also written by Luke, Peter urges his listeners to repent of their sins, “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.” (Acts 3: 19) In his letter John sees Christ as a sin offering for the world, “If anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is expiation for our sins”(I John 2: 1-2).

Special emphasis is put in today´s Gospel on the witness of the twelve apostles in their role in giving faith to the earthly ministry and resurrection of the Lord. Jesus commands his apostles that the witness is to be accompanied by the forgiveness of sins. The witness speaks with authority and he speaks the truth. And as a result the witness is believable, that explains why the preaching of the apostles was so effective on Pentecost day.

We might have problems, like the apostles, not just believing in the resurrection, but being witnesses of the resurrection. We have to realize that God has chosen us, through our baptism, for this important task, to be his witnesses. And as Jesus commands his apostles, our testimony is to be accompanied by constant forgiveness, and by our Christian way of living. As Saint Francis of Assissi would say, in similar words: “Preach the Gospel all the time, but use words only when they are necessary.”

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