3rd Sunday of Easter
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2:1-15a; Luke 24:35-48
Today’s passage from Acts drew my attention to the opening phrase of Psalm 115: “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name give the glory, because of your mercy and truth” (Ps. 115:1). When Peter and John cured the cripple, they were making visible and tangible the forgiveness of sin won by Christ. Every good work that we do is the result of God’s infinite mercy and grace. Let me turn your attention to a comment made by Mother Theresa that was quoted by Pope Francis: “God bends down and uses us, you and me, to be his love and his compassion in the world; he bears our sins, our troubles and our faults. He depends on us to love the world and to show how much he loves it. If we are too concerned with ourselves, we will have no time left for others”. (Quoted in Gaudete et Exsultate) Because all the good that we possess we have received as a gift of divine providence we need to bow down before God and offer Him a prayer of praise and gratitude.
Jesus Christ is the Only-begotten and Beloved Son of God. Because He is the mercy of God made tangible, he is the savior of the human race. He came into the world as a sign of the Father’s infinite love. Because of His victory over sin and death, every good gift comes to us through Him. He is the Way to salvation for every human being, in every land and in every age. The gospel, when rightly understood, becomes the Word of life and the healing balm for the wounded conscience. The good news is that we can repent and have all our sins forgiven and all our guilt blotted out. In Christ we have been made new.
The gospel tells us of how Jesus appeared to two of His disciples who had been severely traumatized by the passion, death and reports of the resurrection. As He walked with them on their journey home, he cut through their defenses and overcame their fears. He offered them a healing balm for their troubled minds and hearts. Jesus spoke with them concerning their lack of faith, and assured them that His passion, death and resurrection were foretold by the prophets. Christ by His Spirit works on the minds and hearts of every men, woman and child. As He did for the disciples journeying to Emmaus, He gives us a correct understand of Scriptures.
There is more to being a Catholic than going to Mass and joining the communion line. To be Catholic means to allow our hearts to burn within us as we listen to the proclamation of the Word and to recognize the Risen Lord in the breaking of the bread. To be Catholic means to invite others to share in the intimate bond of love and communion that we have experienced. Recall these words of Saint John: “We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of Life” (1 Jn. 1:1). By rising from the dead Christ broke the chains of death and healed the crippling effects of sin. In Christ, God has brought to fulfillment all that had been promised by the prophets from of old.
Since the beginning of time, God has had this plan of bringing new and abundant life to the world through the death of His Son. Saint Peter put it, “the Author of Life” came to us through death. Saint Paul expanded upon this thought: “When our mortal bodies have been clothed in immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54). As He did for the disciples, He does for us, opening our minds to understand the scriptures and making Himself known to us through the breaking of the Bread.
Clothed in the light of His resurrection, Jesus explained the reason for everything that happened to Him: “that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins might be preached in His name throughout the whole world.” My brothers and sisters, today, in this church, gathered around this altar, we have been gifted with an Upper room experience of the Risen Lord. Like the disciples, we can encounter him through the scriptures we read and in the breaking of the bread. Like them, we are called to live and speak forgiveness. The words we speak and the way we act will put a face on God for the people who are seeking forgiveness. The Word became flesh. The Son of God bound Himself to us in an unbreakable bond of love. He uses us as ministers of forgiveness and healing in a world consumed by hatred and violence. He walked among us to show us the way to the Father. Obeying Christ’s command, let us walk among men to show them another way to travel the road of life.
Giving and forgiving enables us to reproduce in our lives some small measure of God’s perfection, which gives and forgives super abundantly. Dr. Martine Luther King, Jr. wrote these words in his book Strength to Love: “Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way. This does not mean that we abandon our righteous efforts. With every ounce of our energy we must continue to rid this nation of the incubus of segregation. But we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege and our obligation to love. While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community.”
Throughout the season of Easter we recall and celebrate the victory of Love over sin and death. Pope Francis encourages us to contemplate the boundless love flowing from the heart of Christ. Christ, whose heart was wounded for love of us comes to meet us who have been wounded by sin. We are called to be holy by living lives of love and forgiveness. A person who sympathizes with pain and sorrow is capable of touching life’s depths and finding peace. We are capable of loving with the infinite love of God, because the risen Lord has bound His powerful resurrected life with our fragile mortal lives. In Christ, God draws us to Himself. Christ’s love is the source of our forgiveness and His mercy is the reason for our hope. Love is the most potent instrument in society’s search for joy and hope. It is important that we allow the Spirit to form us into vessels that are capable of carrying Christ into the world. I will close with a comment from the Fathers gathered at Vatican Two. “The future of humanity lies in the hands of those who are strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping” (Gaudium et Spes, # 31).