April 18: 3rd Sunday of Easter
Acts 3:13-15; 1 John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48
The common theme of today’s readings is the challenge to adjust our lives to the living presence of the risen Lord as we grow daily more aware of the presence of His Holy Spirit within us and surrounding us. This awareness should strengthen our hope in His promises, bring us to true repentance for our sins and the renewal of our lives, and lead us to bear witness to Christ by our works of charity. The readings also remind us that the purpose of the suffering, death, and Resurrection of Jesus was to save us from our sins.
The first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, gives us Peter’s second sermon addressing the Jewish assembly at the Portico of Solomon in Jerusalem. Peter forcefully shows how the messianic prophecies have been fulfilled in the crucified and risen Jesus and challenges the Jews to repent and turn toward God so that their sins may be wiped away. In the second reading, John answers doubts raised by the heretics of his time, asserting the fundamental Christian doctrine that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice offered as expiation for our sins. Today’s Gospel describes Jesus’ appearance on the evening of His Resurrection to his apostles who were in the locked Upper Room, the Cenacle. We see Jesus remove the doubts of his apostles about his Resurrection by inviting them to touch him and by eating a piece of cooked fish. Jesus explains how the prophecies have been fulfilled in him. Then he commissions them to bear witness to him and preach “repentance and forgiveness of sins in his name” after receiving the Holy Spirit.
We need to share the apostles’ “Upper Room Experience” in the Holy Mass: The same Jesus who, in the Upper Room, the Cenacle, prepared the disciples for their preaching and witnessing mission, is present with us in the Eucharistic celebration. In the “Liturgy of the Word” of God, Jesus speaks to us. In the “Liturgy of the Eucharist,” Jesus becomes our spiritual food and drink. Thus, today’s Gospel scene is repeated every Sunday on our altars. Like the early disciples, we come together to repent of our sins, express our gratitude for blessings received, listen to God’s word, and offer our lives to God along with our petitions and His gifts of consecrated Bread and Wine. We also consume the spiritual food Jesus supplies, thus gaining the strength necessary for sharing Christ’s message with the entire world, mainly by living transparent Christian lives.
Jesus needs us as witnesses to continue his mission. Jesus needs Spirit-filled followers to be his eyes, ears, hands, and feet, to bear witness to his love, mercy and forgiveness by our interactions with our brother and sisters. Our daily lives are meant to serve as a means for us to experience and share the risen Lord with others. Just as the disciples experienced the risen Lord in their community, let us learn to recognize the presence of Jesus in our own homes, social service centers, nursing facilities, hospitals, workplaces, and schools. Jesus wants us to be a community, which shares and cares, a community, which knows how to recognize Jesus in the poor, the marginalized, the sick – that is, in everyone. Amen.