THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER (2021)
Readings:Acts of the Apostles 3:13-15, 17-19Psalms 4:2, 4, 7-91 John 2:1-5Luke 24:35-48
The wealth of having four gospels can also lead to a great deal of confusion, since our Sunday cycle of readings overlaps and repeats accounts of what is nearly the same event. Today’s gospel is practically the same as the one recounted last Sunday from the Gospel of John, and it picks up from Wednesday’s weekday gospel about the disciples on the way to Emmaus, a story we only have from Luke. With the Acts of the Apostles recounting the early days of the nascent Church, it might appear that the apostles are in and out of the room with the locked doors more than Jack pops out of his proverbial box. I say this merely to assure the readers that if they feel any confusion it is perfectly warranted.
People will recall that the disciples who were on their way to Emmaus, cut their trip short after Jesus “appeared to them (more like made Himself known) in the breaking of bread,” and they ran back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples what they knew. The events of the day had thoroughly confused the disciples, even to the point of not fully (expecting) recognizing Jesus, even when “He stood in their midst and said to them “Peace be with you.”” Indeed, so unexpected was His presence, that “they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.”
The teacher in Jesus takes over, and points out that ghosts don’t have “flesh and bones,” neither are they hungry enough to ask for “something to eat.” The disciples’ fear turns into joy and amazement, and Jesus does what He did so many times before, attempted to open their minds and see that everything that happened was revealed “in the Law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms,” and it was necessary that it be fulfilled. Everything that the disciples had witnessed from the day when they left their nets behind to the taking of Jesus down from the cross, all of it was part of God’s eternal plan. And now, with an empty tomb as background, His presence with them was not to push them into further incredulity, but rather it was meant to enforce the need for them now to preach a gospel “of repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,” and it was meant to be preached “to all nations.”
This week’s liturgy is just as merciful as last week’s liturgy, as is every Eucharist, for it reminds us of the loving and forgiving God that we are privileged to worship. God the Father’s message to the world is one of forgiveness; God’s desire is that our sins “be wiped away,” which He does through the sacrifice of His son on the cross. It is God who we place our trust in, for as the psalmist tells us He is our “security,” He has “pity on us,” and in Him is the “justice” that can never be found in this world. When the light of His countenance shines upon us” He “puts gladness into our hearts.”
Where Jesus truly resides, there is to be found the “peace” that the world cannot give. All of the readings shared with us since the wonderful feast of Easter have one thing in common – Jesus wishes those to whom He reveals Himself “PEACE.” We can know that we are Jesus’ disciples if the world around us is one of peace. It is peace that is the fruit of “keeping His commandments;” it is peace that happens when we love as Jesus would have us love; peace is the result of preaching, not our own, but the Lord’s message. If there is no peace in our lives, it just might be that Jesus’ presence is not what it is meant to be. May this Easter season bring us a greater share in the peace that can only be found in Jesus.