14 and 15 April 2018 Third Sunday of Easter B Homily
First John 2:105
My sisters and brothers in Christ.
The Death and Resurrection of Jesús required some serious re- calculations on the part of Jesús’ followers.
Their individual and group thinking, hopes, plans, understanding had to be transformed.
Peter, for instance, has been transformed. He was a braggart and he had an exaggerated sense of his own importance and capabilities. He has been transformed, as we hear today in the first reading, from a follower with words, lots of words, maybe too many words,
Peter becomes a “witness” who gives testimony by his deeds as well as his words.
The words of Peter are no longer about himself, his “willingness” to die for Jesús but his mission to help others to come to believe, to understand and to follow Jesús.
Peter’s discourse in the first Reading occurs after Peter has just cured a person who is crippled.
The Gospel today opens with a summary of the disciples who have met Jesús on the road to Emmaus. Jesús’ explanation of the Scriptures to Cleophas ( whiche means the whole glory) and his companion caused their hearts to burn within them.
They heard a “moving” testimony but they could not “see” it was Jesús until “they broke and shared the bread”.
Luke, in the Gospel today, reports various reactions when Jesús appears to to the disciples.
Jesús “stood in their midst” and brings a message: “Peace be with you.”
The reaction of the disciples is that they are “startled and terrified and thought they had seen a ghost.”
Jesús notes they are “troubled”.
Jesús seeks to reassure them in their confusion and fear.
Jesús shows them his his hands and feet.
The disciple are “incredulous with joy and amazed”.
Jesús eats with the disciples.
Jesús words, explanations and eating with the disciples helps the disciples to know they are not dealing with a ghost or an impostor or a person who “looks like” Jesús.
The disciples are again treated to an explanation of the Scriptures and are “witnesses of these things”.
“Opening our minds to understand the Scriptures” is a task that has a beginning in a time and place but is a task we can never claim we are finished or have nothing more to learn or “already know them”.
The challenge of “understanding the scriptures” is related to our believing with the first disciples that the resurrection is not a phantasy or fanciful story or the result of “too much wine”.
The disciples are charged with being “witnesses” to the life, suffering and resurrection of Jesús.
The testimony of Jesús’ disciples of all times and eras needs to be a “testimony” whose source is not only our words but also our deeds.
I believe our words can be inspiring and beautiful but if our deeds are half hearted or misdirected or careless the words will be hollow and the testimony ineffective if not false.
The Easter challenge for those of us who are witnesses is this:
Let us be faithful to the
joy of the victory of life over death that this Easter seasin celebrates.