READINGS: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19/ 1 John 2:1-5/ Luke 24:35-48
Theme: Jesus Christ Is Risen Indeed!
3rd Sunday of Easter
Beloved, Jesus Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
In 1978, when, as a Form 2 pupil of Nima Roman Catholic Middle School, I passed the Common Entrance Exams to gain admission for my secondary education, I was so excited that already at the entrance of our compound house of about 40 families, I began to shout aloud, ‘I have passed! I have passed’, while jubilantly waving my hands in the air. You could imagine some co-tenants, young and old, watching me as I was running towards our ‘apartment’ in that jubilant mood.
Beloved, similarly we should be excited in telling others that Jesus Christ has PASSED the TEST OF DYING TO SAVE US – that HE IS RISEN INDEED!
Today’s gospel reading [Luke 24:35-48] informs us of the excitement of the disciples who encountered the Risen Lord. Today’s reading is part of a long story [Luke 24:13-48] which begins with the journey of two disciples to Emmaus. On their way the Risen Lord joined them but they thought he was a stranger. But at the end of that journey when they recognized the Risen Lord in the breaking of bread at supper, they returned with excitement that very night to Jerusalem to inform the other disciples that Jesus was indeed risen!
There in Jerusalem, excitement met with excitement; for before the two disciples could narrate their story, the larger group greeted them with: ‘THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED AND HAS APPEARED TO SIMON [PETER]!’ (Luke 24:34). While they were narrating the story of what had happened on the road to Emmaus and how they had come to recognized Jesus, the Lord appeared in their midst, saying, ‘PEACE BE WITH YOU!’
Earlier on, in their conversation with Jesus [the stranger], the two disciples, after referring to Jesus’ crucifixion, said to him: ‘today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find his body, they came saying that they had also seen angels who said he was alive . . .’ (Luke 24: 22-24).
Beloved, as a song writer wrote, ‘an empty grave is there to prove that my Saviour lives.’ But for those who, like the two disciples travelling to Emmaus, the EMPTY TOMB is not a sufficient proof, the Risen Lord appeared! But to those who thought his appearance was that of a ghost [as we heard in today’s gospel reading], Jesus said: ‘TOUCH ME AND SEE FOR YOURSELVES; A GHOST HAS NO FLESH AND BONE AS YOU CAN SEE I HAVE’ (Luke 24:39).
Still not convinced that it is the Risen Lord? He ate in their presence [Luke 24:41-43]! Like Thomas, are you still not sure of who appeared to the disciples: thinking that probably it was a stranger who visited them, Jesus proved that he who was crucified was the one who is risen by showing the disciples the crucifixion marks on his hands, feet and side [Luke 24:39] – as if to say that the ‘surgical marks’ prove that I was the very person who went through the surgery of your salvation!
Still not satisfied? After his resurrection, Jesus performed some of the miracles he had performed before his crucifixion. For instance, in his ministry he made Peter and co have a big catch of fish [Luke 5:5-11], and after his resurrection, he made them have a similar catch of fish [John 21:1-10]; with this miracle, it is no wonder that the beloved disciple recognized the Risen Lord immediately, he said: ‘IT IS THE LORD’ (John 21:7)!
And this is the icing on the cake: because Jesus is risen, Peter and co could perform miracles in his name; and so they told the lame beggar: ’SILVER AND GOLD WE HAVE NONE, BUT IN THE NAME OF JESUS GET UP AND WALK!’ And instantly he was healed (Acts 3:6-8)! Beloved, Jesus is risen and alive indeed, alleluia!
Beloved, did Jesus not predict that he would be arrested in Jerusalem and that he would suffer? He did. And did it not happen? It did happen. Did he not predict that he would be crucified? He did. And did it not happen? It did happen. And did he not predict his resurrection? He did. But why do some have problem with accepting that he arose, but they do not have problem about his arrest, suffering and death? Beloved the truth is JESUS, OUR LORD, IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!
When a mechanic lies under a car, it does not mean he has no bedroom; rather he is there to fix the car. Similarly when Jesus lay in the tomb it did not mean he was powerless, he was there to fix the damage that death [the ACCIDENT of sin – remember that God did not create sin] had caused our life! And after removing the damaged bolts and nuts of our life and fixing our life, Jesus, the Divine Engineer arose on the third day! He is risen indeed!
Beloved, Jesus has fixed our life – he has reconciled us with God with the new ‘bolts and nuts’ of forgiveness. That is what he explained to the disciples in today’s gospel passage: when he had opened their minds to understand the scriptures which foretold of his suffering, death and resurrection, he continued: ‘THAT IN HIS NAME REPENTANCE FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS WOULD BE PREACHED TO ALL NATIONS’ (Luke 24:48). He added also: ‘YOU ARE WITNESSES TO THIS’ (Luke 24:48).
It is in obedience to their Master to be witnesses that Peter in the first reading, in preaching to those captivated by his healing of the lame beggar, said: ‘YOU MUST REPENT AND TURN TO GOD, SO THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE WIPED OUT’ (Acts 3:19).
Similarly in today’s second reading [1 John 2:1-5], John, another witness of Christ’s resurrection testifies: ‘IF ANYONE SHOULD SIN, WE HAVE OUR ADVOCATE WITH THE FATHER, JESUS CHRIST . . .; HE IS THE SACRIFICE THAT TAKES OUR SINS AWAY . . .’ Yes Jesus the Divine Engineer has fixed the damaged relationship between us and God!
Beloved, as we believe and witness to the fact that JESUS CHRIST IS TRULY RISEN, MAY EVERY SIN WE CONFESS BE FORGIVEN BY THE FATHER, AND MAY WE EVENTUALLY EXPERIENCE AN EVERLASTING RECONCILIATION WITH GOD, AMEN!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis