Third Sunday After Easter Lessons & Meditations

3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER   04-18-2021

EASTER is a season of 50 days, including seven Sundays, that ends on PENTECOST SUNDAY, May 23 in this particular liturgical year. On the 2ND SUNDAY OF EASTER our gospel reading from John 20:19-31 always takes us inside an upper room behind closed doors, with the risen Jesus appearing to his disciples and then returning one week later to convince “doubting” Thomas. On the 3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER our gospel reading is always one in which the risen Jesus shares food with the disciples. On the 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER our gospel reading always lifts up the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. And the gospel reading for the 7TH SUNDAY IN EASTER is always taken from the long prayer that Jesus prays for his followers in John on the night before his death, always lifting up his desire for their unity.  

FIRST READING:  Acts 3:12-19

WOW! WHAT HAPPENED TO PETER? Isn’t this the man who had recently denied even knowing Jesus of Nazareth?

Pentecost happened. The risen Jesus had appeared to his followers, then ascended up into the clouds. He left behind a mission for them to engage in and his promise of the power of the Holy Spirit. After that happened, Peter was bold, Peter was public, Peter preached. And he was on fire with faith.

You can read Acts 3:1-10 to see what happened to a man who had always been lame, who had never walked, when his path crossed Peter’s. Peter was a bearer of God’s healing power in the name of Jesus Christ.

There were, of course, questions and conjecture. Peter was quick to say that it was not his own power or piety… it had occurred by faith in and through Jesus. Then he called the gathered crowd to repent and to turn to Jesus. A summary of his message? “You killed him. God raised him. Now that you know, repent and turn to God.”

Have you ever heard a “hard truth” about yourself that got you to thinking and led to your changing for the better? We ought to be grateful for the miracle of a changed heart and a changed life!

When is it proper to come on strong against a person’s sin, like Peter did in verses 13-15? Have you ever tried to reach out to someone in this way? Is there a difference between harsh condemnation and tough love?

Lord, we all need mercy and grace! 

 

SECOND READING:  1 John 3:1-7

The author of 1 John is writing to a Christian community that has experienced division in its fellowship (false teachings that led to a splinter group with more “advanced” notions, views that discounted the physical life, the suffering, and the salvation given by Jesus Christ and instead emphasized direct knowledge of and fellowship with God through personal visions and spiritual revelations). To help the Church discern truth from error, both in doctrine and lifestyle, this letter was written.

In an expression of amazement, the author speaks in wonder in today’s reading of what God has already given to believers and how that offers hope in the face of what is yet to come. God has loved us to make us children of God. Though we do not yet know the full details of our future existence, we trust that God will reveal it to us, just as God revealed Jesus to take away our sins. And we also trust that we shall “be like him” in the future.

Who are you? A child of God! Who will you become? Like Jesus! Don’t let anyone or anything cause you to lose your identity. And focus on thinking right, saying right, doing right, and being right. That’s what children of God choose and try – even in a world where some do whatever they please and treat God and others wrong.  

GOSPEL READING:  Luke 24:36b-48

We were in Mark the first week and in John the second week… today we are in Luke. In the Gospel of Luke there are two previous resurrection stories: one at the empty tomb with the women; and a second with two believers on the road back to Emmaus and in their home.

In today’s account of an appearance after his resurrection, the risen Jesus convinces his disciples that he is not a ghost but has been raised from the dead… opens the minds of his disciples to understand him as the Messiah who was written about in the Old Testament… and prepares to send them on a mission that calls for repentance and offers forgiveness.

In this account from Luke the disciples seem to recognize him but think that they are seeing a ghost. Please note that the various Gospels seem to struggle to say what the risen body of Jesus is, exactly. Sometimes he is not recognized at all. Sometimes he simply suddenly appears, even behind closed and locked doors… and just as suddenly disappears. And we have to consider all the torture and suffering that his physical body would have gone through, as well as the fact that he was dead and buried for a while, so he might not be looking his best. (Are you always looking good after a long day, after a rough night, after a sudden awakening?)  And, most likely, the resurrected body will not be the same as a resuscitated physical body – even some day when we die. St. Paul writes that we will be different, we will be changed, we will be new in some way. Remember, in today’s Second Reading the author of 1 John says simply that we will “be like Jesus” .

You are witnesses. This is God’s will, not your own inclination. What will you say, what will you do? The power to go, to say, to do comes from the Holy Spirit. Do your best to be humble, to be obedient, and to represent.

When have you been a witness? To whom might you “show and tell” about the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord? Will you try?

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