On this third Sunday of Easter, the Church invites us to celebrate the living Christ, who is our advocate. Through his Death and Resurrection, he advocates for us. Ignorance and doubt keeps us in fear and darkness, while Christ illumines and strengthens our faith.
One important point which all the Readings of this Sunday have in common is the relationship between ignorance and faith. St. Peter observed the ignorance of the Jewish leaders and he addressed them: “It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just… Now brothers, I know that neither you nor your leaders had an idea of what you were doing.”
Today’s Readings are a challenge to our Faith in the living presence of the Risen Lord. That Faith should strengthen our Hope in his promises, call us to true repentance for our sins and lead us to bear in witness to Christ by our works of Charity.
Does our Faith do that for us? The Readings also remind us that the purpose of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection was to save us from our sins. They invite us to make our bearing witness to the Risen Lord more effective by repenting of our sins, renewing our lives, and meeting Jesus in the Word of God and at the Eucharistic Table.
The first Reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, describes how Peter fulfills the mission of preaching Jesus. In this second sermon, Peter goes on with the preaching mission begun on Pentecost in Jerusalem, and again presents Jesus as the fulfillment of all the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. He also asks the Jews to “repent” (= think again), and turn toward God so that their sins may be wiped away.
In the second Reading, St. John tells us that true knowledge and love of God consists in acknowledging that Jesus is the expiation for our sins. We make that acknowledgement daily by bearing witness to him in our lives and by obeying his commandments.
Today’s Gospel leads us to reflect on Faith, doubts, and crises. It shows us how Jesus convinced his disciples of his Resurrection and then commissioned them to be his witnesses throughout the world. Jesus prepared them to receive God’s power through the coming descent of the Holy Spirit upon them, and commanded them to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
Today’s Gospel also reveals something very important. Often, we think that only Thomas doubted the Resurrection of Christ. Of course, according to the Gospel of John 20: 19-21, (which we read last Sunday), it seemed so. However, without contradicting John, Luke simply takes us further by revealing that Thomas was not alone in this boat. Jesus asked his disciples: “Why are you agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts?’
Of course, Jesus knew that most of his disciples doubted, even though they did not manifest it publicly. So, he did everything humanly possible to convince them. He visited them, ate and drank with them. He even allowed them to touch his wounds.
How many of us attend Sunday Mass and yet do not believe in the Eucharist? How many are Christians, and yet do not believe in the Resurrection of the dead. How many receive the Sacrament of confession, and yet do not believe in the forgiveness of sins? How many are Christians, and yet do not believe that Jesus is true God and true Man. How many of us are Christians, and yet do not believe that Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. These are different shades of doubt. We manifest them differently. May the Risen Christ illuminate our minds that we may believe in him. Alleluia!
The Church advises us that Jesus needs us as witnesses to continue his mission. Witnessing to Jesus is testifying by our lives that the power of the Risen Jesus has touched us and transformed us in the most remarkable way imaginable; from doubting to believing. Witnessing to Jesus is letting Jesus speak through us to other people.
Jesus needs Spirit-filled followers to be his eyes, ears, hands and feet so that we may bear witness to his love, mercy and forgiveness by exercising these gifts in our compassionate, loving service of all our brothers and sisters. The essence of bearing witness is to testify by our lives that the power of the Risen Jesus has touched and transformed us. In other words, Jesus is to speak to other people through us.
Also, that our daily lives need to become the means of experiencing and sharing the Risen Lord with others. Just as the disciples experienced their Risen Lord in their community, let us learn to recognize the presence of Jesus in our own homes, social service centres, nursing facilities, workplaces, hospitals and schools. These are also the places where we have the opportunity to convey our peace and joy to others and to bring healing into people’s lives; and be peacemakers and not makers of division or conflict.
Fr. Jude CSSp