3rd Sunday of Easter, Year A
Acts 2:14, 22-33
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11 (11a)
1 Peter 1:17-21
April 23, 2023
When Jesus was arrested, Peter denied him three times. The other disciples fled. Now, Peter stands up and proclaims Jesus. He speaks of Jesus’ mighty deeds. He speaks of Jesus as the one they had killed.
What led Peter from denying Jesus three times to boldly proclaiming Jesus to those who had him killed?
Yes, Jesus had been crucified but God raised him up! God has power even over death. Peter and the others saw Jesus risen. Seeing Jesus risen took the Crucifixion from seeming like a defeat to a victory over sin and death.
That alone would have strengthened Peter’s faith but there is more. Peter and the other disciples had just received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Peter clearly received the gift of courage from the Holy Spirit.
What will it take to get you to proclaim Jesus to others?
At Baptism we receive the same Holy Spirit that Peter received at Pentecost. We are sealed with the same Spirit at Confirmation.
Are you ready to proclaim Jesus to others?
How is God calling you to proclaim Jesus to others?
All parents are called to teach their children about God. As a parish, we help the parents but teaching the faith begins at home.
While not everyone is called to preach Jesus in word, we are all called to proclaim Jesus in deed. We do so by loving our neighbor as we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the sick. We do these things in love. Love is from God.
We proclaim God to the world when we put God first. Frank Sinatra had a song, “I did it my way.” I don’t want to do these my way. I know there is a better way. The best way is God’s way. God will show us “the path to life.”
Jesus shed his “precious blood” as the “spotless unblemished lamb.”
How does knowing this change your life?
The first disciples struggled to understand what happened to Jesus. Following Jesus’ Crucifixion, two of the disciples left Jerusalem and set out on the road to Emmaus. As they travelled, “they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.” I suspect they were “conversing and debating” in an attempt to make sense of what had happened.
What happens as they were conversing about Jesus?
“Jesus himself drew near.” However, they were “prevented from recognizing him.”
So, they assumed Jesus was just another Jew leaving Jerusalem. (Remember it was the Passover time. So, many Jews had come to Jerusalem and were now leaving.)
Jesus initiates a conversation with the two disciples by asking “What are you discussing?”.
They are surprised He couldn’t guess. To them, what had happened to Jesus was so astounding that they assumed everyone had heard about it.
They tell him what had happened, speaking of him as “a prophet mighty in deed and word” who they were hoping would be the “one to redeem Israel.”
They had great hope in Jesus but now they are downcast because Jesus has been crucified. It seems Jesus has been defeated.
To add to their confusion, Jesus’ tomb has been found empty and angels had said “he was alive.” How could this be?
It might seem they had lost faith but their hearts were not closed.
Jesus began to speak to them of how it was “necessary” for the Messiah to suffer. “He interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.” They began to understand but still did not recognize him.
When did they recognize Jesus?
In the breaking of the bread.
Today, we can match up what happened to Jesus to the prophecies of the suffering servant in the Old Testament. With the help of the Holy Spirit, when we read Scripture together Jesus becomes present among us. This is the first half of Mass.
Then we break bread. We celebrate the Eucharist. This is when the two disciples recognized Jesus.
Unfortunately, many people, even practicing Catholics, do not recognize Jesus in the Eucharist. If one looks at the bread and wine only in rational terms, it might seem ridiculous to think the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus.
God has given us the gift of reason to learn things. However, reason cannot supply all the answers to questions about God. God is beyond our human comprehension. However, when “reason’ is not enough, we have something greater, “faith.” In faith, Jesus chooses to reveal to us his presence in the Eucharist when He says this is my body…this is my blood.
Do you recognize Jesus in the Eucharist?
Do your hearts burn within you when you hear God’s Word?
What is your reaction to what you hear in church? What is your reaction to what we celebrate in the Eucharist?
The two disciples recounted to the other disciples of their experience with the risen Jesus.
Do you show your experience of Jesus with others?
When you leave church, do you converse with others about what you have experienced? Converse about Jesus and He will become present. We may not see him as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus did but our hearts will burn with his presence.
God’s way is not popular today but that doesn’t mean it is the wrong path. Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”