3rd Sunday of Easter

Sunday, April 15, 2018

First reading: Acts 3:13-15,17-19

The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our ancestors, 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 Messiah would suffer. Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.

Second reading: 1 Jn. 2:1-5

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. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him.

Gospel: Lk. 24:35-48

Then the two [disciples] recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the 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.

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 Messiah 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.”

In other words Fr. Dante Barril, SVD (Catholic Trade, Manila)

We fear the unknown. I used to be very scared of dark places. I remember how my father would go into a dark room and tell me that there were no monsters inside. And then it would not be that scary anymore.

The Gospel presents that Jesus is a suffering Messiah. And Luke’s report about how Jesus showed his hands and feet, which must have borne the marks of the nails, serves to reinforce the image of Jesus as one who has suffered much. But for all the drama and emotion that the crucifixion evokes, it’s not really the wounds, the pain and suffering that make Jesus special. Everybody has been wounded and surely nobody has been exempted from suffering and pain. Instead what sets Jesus apart is the fact that He has conquered pain and suffering—even death. He went to hell and has come back!

Once our group was in the Dead Sea. Everybody was swimming, except one sister. I approached her and persuaded her to swim. I showed her how easy it was. Eventually I convinced her to give it a try. Dear old sister started floating and smiling all over the renowned sea. And I really could see joy in her face, for about five minutes until somebody accidentally splashed very salty water in her eyes, which caused her to panic and to cry for help. She almost drowned. Luckily the place had ready life guards who sprang into action and saved our group and especially me from a truckload of guilt. But what sister said, when I offered my apologies later on, struck me: “You know what? I could float on that sea. I did it because you were doing it. There was a minor glitch in my execution, but I’m sure when I will do it again I will do it a little better.”

We hide our wounds. We brush away our hurts. We don’t talk or even think of our death. All these scare us. But the fact that Jesus has conquered them gives us hope. It could be done. There might be glitches in our execution, but if we keep on going at it we’ll eventually get better. Besides, as that famous prayer, “Footprints in the Sand” says, if we could no longer walk He will carry us through. And He sure knows the way because He has been there and done that already. And more importantly, Jesus Himself has given the assurance to his followers saying that even if “in the world you will have trouble, (but) take courage, I have conquered the world.” (Jn. 16:33)

Jesus has entered the dark room and has assured us that there are no monsters inside—only darkness that will soon give way to light.

Tags: Bible reflection, Witness to the Word