Homily from the Third Sunday of Easter
April 15, 2018
I love the readings during the Easter season. They give us insight into the early Church. They show us how we are called to live as Christians. They help us learn how the disciples came to believe, and better understand why Jesus had to suffer, die and rise again. Today’s readings give insight into what it means to be in a relationship with God, and to grow in faith and understanding.
FIRST READING ACTS 3:13-15, 17-19
Our First Reading today is a powerful speech by Peter, calling the gathered crowd to repentance and conversion. What we don’t hear in this reading is what got Peter so fired up. You have to go back a few paragraphs in the Bible to get the full story (Cure of the Crippled Beggar – Acts 3:1-12).
Here’s what had happened: Peter and John had cured a man crippled from birth. In the name of Jesus the Nazorean, Peter tells the man “Get up and walk.” And he does!
After rising and walking a bit, the Bible tells us that the man “clings to Peter and John.” The man doesn’t want to let go of those who cured him; he wants to remain with them in this saving relationship. This scene helps set the stage for all of today’s readings and helps us reflect on how we grow in relationship with our savior, Jesus the Christ.
From the crippled man, we learn:
- That we, too, need to cling our savior – out of love and devotion
- We need to remain close to God, and close to God’s people – as a community of faith
- We need to abide in God – taking time to rest in his love
We do this by developing a habit of regular prayer and reflection, by engaging in our faith community as we share our gifts with others, and by taking “Sabbath Time” to just rest and enjoy all of the gifts God has given us (especially our families).
From Peter, we are reminded that we are human and make mistakes. As Peter pointed out, the same people who were waiting for a savior acted out of ignorance by denying Christ and ordering him crucified. Even Peter, the one hand-chosen by Jesus to lead his church, denied Christ in his time of need. From Peter, we are reminded that all of this — the suffering, death, and resurrection — were a part of God’s plan, just as the prophets foretold.
From the words of Peter, we learn:
- That suffering and death of Jesus were for the sins of man
- But the resurrection was the gift of God
- God did not condemn us for our actions; Jesus suffered and died for us. His resurrection is our saving grace.
SECOND READING 1 JN 2:1-5A
Our Second Reading is a loving reminder that we are not alone in life’s challenges. When we make mistakes, when we sin, we have an “advocate” in Jesus. He has already helped us – and the whole world – by saving us from sin. He continues his saving work on our behalf, as we hear in the opening prayers at Mass: “He is seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us.”
What we learn from this reading is that we are not alone in our pursuit of holiness, and we are not alone when we fall to sin.
- We have to be willing to ask God for forgiveness when we sin
- We have to be willing to accept forgiveness from God (and others)
- We have to be willing to offer forgiveness (to others)
By doing our best to keep God’s commandments, and by reconciling when we fall to sin, we demonstrate the perfect love of God.
GOSPEL LK 24:35-48
All of these things (being in a loving relationship with God, repenting for our sins, and doing our best to live a holy life) lead us to a key message in today’s Gospel: Peace
“Peace” was what Jesus offered to his disciples every time he greeted them after the resurrection. Peace was what the disciples felt when they recognized Jesus as real, and not as a ghost that had appeared to them.
You know, the disciples were a lot like us. They were people prone to make mistakes. They were people looking for direction. They were people in search of peace and joy. What we hear in today’s Gospel is a reminder that all of Christ’s life (including his suffering, death and resurrection) is part of God’s grand plan for us. Two thousand years later, we still need direction. We are still going to mistakes. But that doesn’t mean we give up. We, too, have to trust in God’s great plan for us. We have to continue to open our hearts and minds to God’s love. And we need to be both patient, and persistent. This will lead us to the peace and joy we long for.
We are not alone in our journey. We have an advocate in Jesus, and the Holy Spirit to guide us.
Last night, my wife and I attended a concert by Casting Crowns, one of our favorite Christian music groups. The song that really “spoke” to me last night is titled “Just be Held.” (Click here to listen) It touched my heart when they sang it in concert as I reflected on our need to rely on God (and Jesus as our advocate) as we move through difficult times in life. Let the chorus of this song resonate in your hearts:
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
You’re world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
What a beautiful sentiment. In those times when we think our world is falling apart in chaos, it can merely be a time when God is helping bring our lives together. In those times, God invites us to not cling physically to him, but just allow God to hold us in his heart.
I invite you to take some time this week to allow yourself to “just be held.” Spend some quiet, reflective time in Jesus’ loving arms.
Amid the brokenness in your life, let God help you see the good in your life. Let him help you see the path, the plan he has prepared for you. Allow him to guide you to peace and joy.