THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
Also Read: Mass Readings for 18 Apr 2021
First Reading: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19
“And you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” (v.15) “And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.” (v.17)
“Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.” (v.19)
After the crippled beggar was healed, the beggar himself and others started to follow Peter and John. (Acts 3:1-12) Seeing this, Peter boldly addresses the crowd gathered that day in Solomon’s Portico. In verse 16; Peter declares that it is through Jesus’ name only (“his name itself has made this man strong.”) that the crippled were healed. Then in a show of empathy towards them, Peter seems to be excusing them in verse 17 – that is: “you acted in ignorance as did also your rulers!” He further provides them with a solution! Do St. Peter’s actions sound familiar to us!
Every time we drag ourselves down the ditch and hurt ourselves, do we not find God’s reassuring words echo in our hearts? “Come to me all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Every time we fall into the trap of sin we are crucifying Jesus all over again! Yet, we might have acted in ignorance until now! But today in the preaching of St. Peter we are offered a new path, a new life! – “Repent and turn to God!” (v.19)
Do we possess the boldness and faith of this simple fisherman who once, himself, had denied Jesus? Do we have the courage to take up his offer? We may have denied Jesus earlier, but today can we profess and proclaim our faith simply by the lives we live?
For in our humility to follow the Lord lies our true boldness! Alleluia!
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 4: 2, 4, 7-8, 9
“When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds and be silent.” (v.4)
“Offer right sacrifices and put your trust in the Lord.” (v.5)
“I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone O Lord make me lie down in safety.” (v.8)
The solution to our anxieties is offered in the verses above. The moment we are disturbed for whatever reason, we are to reflect on it in the silence of our bedrooms as we lie down to sleep! We are told to ponder and be silent!
This exercise can be quite difficult and opposite to our usual tendencies in reality! The moment we are disturbed in any little way we will first want to let others know about it. We might then want to malign the person/s involved in the same! But today we are asked to leave it in the hands of Our Lord. As we make our sacrifices in our journey and put our trust in him, we are assured of Peace! And then as we lie down and reflect on the situation, the Lord grants us a peaceful rest in His safety!
Are we willing to make the U-Turn?
Second Reading: First John 2: 1-5a
“But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (v.1-2)
“Whoever says, “I have come to know him, but does not obey his commandments, is a liar.” (v.4)
“By this we may be sure that we are in him.” (v.5)
The readings today are woven together amazingly! In the first reading, St. Peter calls us to repentance and the psalm echoes the same; and here St. John beams the light on our “Way”: “Jesus Christ -as the advocate”! Even though we might have fallen astray, we still have Our Saviour to hold on to!! Jesus Christ is our advocate before God!! How truly amazing!! When we turn to Jesus, He advocates for us to God Our Father!
After we have received His comfort and blessings in our lives, we ought to obey His commandments! St. John reveals this to us in verses 4 and 5. The moment we declare we know him, we must act out of obedience to his commandments! What are his commandments? Jesus gave us a new commandment: “You shall love The Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” –Matthew 22:37-40
In a constantly turning world where insta-love is glorified and, true love lies battered and bruised; the Love that Christ speaks about may be lost to a generation of fickle listeners! If we claim to know God, do we really love him? How do we show this love for him? He is not physically present in our visible realms today to receive our love! The second command then gets activated, when we begin to see God in the neighbors around us.
The ‘neighbor’ we need to begin with most of the time today is our very own family members living right in our own homes! Does it get really challenging to love these neighbors of ours? Oh yes, sure! It could very well be a formidable task! ‘Cause loving the neighbor next door will be easier, as we don’t have to face them each minute of the day! A patient Christ who explains to his disciples even after appearing to them (physically), from the dead is our beacon today! -Luke 24:44-48 Remember, the disciples were his beloved ones while on earth, his friends, who lived with him! Jesus Christ didn’t just preach the gospel, He lived it through and through perfectly!
Now, we see that we have been subtly weaved into the gospel of today! Praise God!
Gospel: Luke 24: 35-48
“While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (v.36)
“Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (v. 45-48)
In reflecting on the gospel today, it would be very helpful to go back a few verses and read from Luke 24: 13-34. This will help us to see that the disciples who had encountered Jesus on their way to Emmaus; have now rushed back to Jerusalem to the ‘Eleven’ and are now narrating the incident to them! And while they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them! (v.36) I am utterly taken up by the thought that: “while they were still talking about him, he appears to them!”
Do we realize that when we speak about God to others, God is present there in our midst? – A profoundly glorious thought indeed! Remember, the disciples who were on their way to Emmaus too were talking about him and he joins them on their way! (Luke 24:15) This thought brings so much hope, like warm sunshine on a gloomy day! To have the Lord among us, while we are walking our way and while we are talking about him is truly a privilege! So, while we walk, we ought to talk about him; He will join us!
Then, the Lord opens their mind to understand scripture and tells them: “You are witnesses of these things!” Having understood from God himself, the disciples are now witnesses to the truth! Christ promises them a gift from the Father: “…to be clothed with power from on high.” (v.49) This verse reveals an important Promise of God to us! -The gift of the Holy Spirit. Then, after Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4), St. Peter in today’s first reading, is witnessing of Christ’s death and resurrection. –Acts 3:15-19 By doing so, Peter is following his Lord’s command – “Repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Luke 24:47
Meanwhile, we have beautifully traversed in faith from Emmaus, to Jerusalem and to Witnessing in the temple. Fabric is woven with the strands of faith! Thank You, God!
May a strand of Christ’s spotless cloak be woven into the tapestry of our being and illumine our hearts, our souls, our spirits, and our minds! Amen!