Third Sunday of Easter
Again this week, the Acts of the Apostles furnishes the first biblical reading. Almost every Sunday in the Easter season features a reading from this book of the New Testament.
In this reading, Peter preaches to the crowds in Jerusalem. Americans are very accustomed to impassioned preaching. They occasionally hear it in their own churches. They hear it on the radio and on television. Impassioned preaching about salvation and God’s mercy is common in our society, godless as it is becoming.
Actually, to preach is to assume a great responsibility. Preaching, after all, by definition is not simply lecturing others. It is speaking in the very name of God.
Those who preached, by ancient Jewish standards, were privileged people in this sense. None chose to be a preacher. Rather, God selected each preacher. Peter stood before this Jerusalem crowd after having been called to preach by Jesus, and Peter spoke in the place of Jesus. He preached the words of Jesus.
This reading makes three points. First, it establishes the identity of Peter. He is an Apostle. Second, he is the chief of the Apostles. He speaks in the names of them all.
Finally, through Peter and the other Apostles, the salvation given by Jesus still reaches humankind. They continue the Lord’s work.
The First Epistle of John provides the second reading. The epistles of John are alike in their eloquence and splendid language. They are alike in the depth of their theology and revelation.
This reading proclaims the majesty of Jesus, the Savior. It cautions, however, that accepting Jesus as Lord is more than lip service. It is actually living the Commandments, by which, and through which, humans find perfection, love, order and peace in God.
St. Luke’s Gospel provides the last reading. It is another Resurrection Narrative, looking back to the beautiful Emmaus story. In the story, as this group of disciples was talking, Jesus stood in their midst, no longer bound by location or time.
He revealed to them the full meaning of the Scriptures, the testaments of God’s power and love. They listened, but they recognized Jesus in the “breaking of the bread,” the early Church’s name for the Eucharist.
The Church continues to summon us to the joy of Easter celebration by presenting us with Emmaus Narrative, so cherished by Christians throughout history. The Church proclaims again that the Lord lives.
Properly we should see ourselves in the roles of the disciples who walked with Jesus to Emmaus. We have heard of the Lord. The Church already has told us of the resurrection, of the Lord’s sacrifice for us, and of the identity of Jesus, Son of God, Redeemer: but human, as are we.
The Church has called us before to realize that true life, on earth or in the hereafter, is in Jesus. It has reminded us that each of us will die. It has reassured us that everlasting life is an option for us, if we accept Jesus as Savior.
This wonderful story of Emmaus instructs us that life can be difficult, and distractions many and forceful. We must listen to Jesus. He alone knows the way.
As was the work of Peter, recorded in Acts, repeated for us today, the precise words of Jesus still are spoken in, and by, the Church. His mercy still flows to us through the Church, built upon foundations laid by Peter and the other Apostles.
Jesus walks with us. He teaches us. He appears in our lives. Do we walk with Jesus? Do we listen? Do we accept what Jesus says?
Open to the Lord, relying upon the Lord, not surprisingly, we ourselves find Jesus in the “breaking of the bread,” the Eucharist.
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.