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Sunday, May 5, 2019

A Homily - The Third Sunday of Easter (Year C)


First Reading - Acts 5:27-32,40-41 ©
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 29(30):2,4-6,11-13 ©
Second Reading - Apocalypse 5:11-14 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Luke 24:32
The Gospel According to John 20:1-19 ©

(NJB)


Be mindful of how you read the scriptures, consider the reading for today from the Acts of the Apostles, the sentiments expressed by the Apostle are wrong.

Pay attention.

In the most literal sense it was the Romans who executed Jesus not the Sanhedrin or the leadership of Israel in Jerusalem, the may have set him up, but he was betrayed by one of his disciples and put to death by the Romans.

In the cosmic sense it was not the Jews who executed Jesus, or the Romans, it was the whole of humanity, our collective spirit, our sinful nature was the cause of Jesus’ death.

We do not need to look for anyone else to blame.

The forgiveness we seek for that crime, and for all of our sins must come from us, from one another to one another. It must come from us as much as from God if we are to have peace in this world.

To prepare ourselves to be forgiven we must first accept responsibility for our role in those tragic events.

Be mindful of this!

Jesus is not the conduit of the forgiveness we seek, neither was his death. He was a facilitator.

Remember it.

We are one creation. All people are held together in the embrace of the Holy Spirit.

Do not be afraid to speak the truth about this. It is the duty of all Christians to speak the truth.

Speak the truth especially to the powerful, but do not allow yourself to be puffed up with pride on account of your experience of doing it, as the apostles often were. If you do, you risk shrouding the truth with vanity, and the gospel will become lost behind its shroud.

Always keep this in front of you; God, who created the universe, will not intervene in your affairs. God will not lift you up, God will not strike you down. God will not be angry with you, but God does love you, and God’s love is endures forever.

Be mindful!

Jesus was not a sacrificial victim.

God has never desired animal sacrifice, God always prefers mercy over the blood feast at the altar, the burning fat that feeds the greed of priestly class.

Jesus was not the Lamb. His killing was a political murder.

Jesus accepted death at the hands of his persecutors for the sake of his friends and family, and the broader community of his followers. If had had resisted, if they had followed him into resistance, the consequences would have been terrible for them.

Jesus said this; “No greater love can a person have than that they give their life for the sake of his fellow another, or others.”

Jesus did this, in the ordinary sense, though it was an extraordinary deed. He did it for ordinary reasons, he did it for love. And though love itself has a cosmic scope, that moment in time was singular, its dimensions were ordinary.

What has made the narrative of Jesus’ death extraordinary was the way in which it was remembered, and how that memory has been carried on from generation to generation all around the globe, even though its natural and ordinary meaning has been lost to myth.

Remember this!

God, the creator of the universe; God who we see in Jesus; God has no desire for power and glory and honor and riches, God does not sit on a throne, God is not a king, and neither was Jesus.

In the light of the liturgy of the church, these truths are easy to forget.

The Gospel writers became confused with questions about who Jesus was, about how they rank among the prophets, about his historical connection to Moses, about the proof of his ministry that was given in the scriptures. They became confused because their vanity led them astray.

In their confusion they began to make up stories to validate their claims, it was unnecessary. And it distorted the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus did not perform miracles to prove to anyone that he was a child of God. He stressed the fact that we are all the children of God, even the leper and the thief, the unmarried woman and the outcast.

Jesus did not come to work magic, or give signs and wonders, Jesus did not come to do that because that is not how God, the creator of the universe, works in the world.

Know this!

The core truth in this Gospel passage is not the long story about encountering Jesus, listening to him expound the scriptures, offering proofs and arguments.

The signal truth is this, “they recognized him in the breaking of the bread.”

The disciples had the opportunity to see Jesus in the man they encountered on the road, but they did not see him in this stranger.

They had the opportunity to see him in the faith of the woman at the tomb, but they could not understand it.

In their minds Jesus was dead, and yet the way, which he personified remained, the way is the living witness of God’s intention for creation, this is what Jesus was tasking them to carry forward.

The disciples were finally able to see the way, when they broke bread with the stranger they encountered on the road.

They found it in community, in sharing. The found it through the selflessness of love.

Consider this.

What does it mean to be a Christian, to be a member of the body of Christ?
What does it mean to be a disciple, to be a student in the school of faith?

In the reading for today there are miracles and visions, there are portents and prophecies, but most significantly, toward the end; there is a moment of instruction.

Jesus is with Peter; Simon by his given name. They are sitting together after breakfast in a moment of earnest talk. Jesus knows that he is handing over the leadership of his movement to this man with whom he often disagreed. Jesus had rebuked him severely in the past, even calling him Satan, the enemy.

Peter abandoned Jesus when he was arrested and denied him in front of crowds of people, and yet despite those failings, or perhaps because of what Peter had learned from them; Jesus spoke to him in a loving manner.

Jesus beseeched Peter to be in his turn, just as loving toward the community that would grow from the seeds of faith…the seeds of trust that the two of them had planted as Jesus was throughout his ministry.

In the same way that Jesus had rebuked Peter three times, in the same way that Peter had denied Jesus three times, Peter now confessed his love for Jesus three times, and Jesus issued the following commission three times:

Feed my lambs. Look after my sheep, Feed my sheep.

Jesus concern is for the wellbeing of the flock, it is not for riches and power and glory, it is for the care and feeding of the people, and these were to be Peter’s only concern as the leader of the church.

Whoever does these things lives in the way that Jesus taught.


First Reading - Acts 5:27-32,40-41 ©

We are witnesses to all this: we and the Holy Spirit

The high priest demanded an explanation of the Apostles. ‘We gave you a formal warning’ he said ‘not to preach in this name, and what have you done? You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and seem determined to fix the guilt of this man’s death on us.’ In reply Peter and the apostles said, ‘Obedience to God comes before obedience to men; it was the God of our ancestors who raised up Jesus, but it was you who had him executed by hanging on a tree. By his own right hand God has now raised him up to be leader and saviour, to give repentance and forgiveness of sins through him to Israel. We are witnesses to all this, we and the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.’ They warned the apostles not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. And so they left the presence of the Sanhedrin glad to have had the honour of suffering humiliation for the sake of the name.


Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 29(30):2,4-6,11-13 ©

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me
  and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you have raised my soul from the dead,
  restored me to life from those who sink into the grave.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

Sing psalms to the Lord, you who love him,
  give thanks to his holy name.
His anger lasts a moment; his favour all through life.
  At night there are tears, but joy comes with dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.

The Lord listened and had pity.
  The Lord came to my help.
For me you have changed my mourning into dancing:
  O Lord my God, I will thank you for ever.

Alleluia!


Second Reading - Apocalypse 5:11-14 ©

The Lamb that was Sacrificed is Worthy to be Given Riches and Power

In my vision, I, John, heard the sound of an immense number of angels gathered round the throne and the animals and the elders; there were ten thousand times ten thousand of them and thousands upon thousands, shouting, ‘The Lamb that was sacrificed is worthy to be given power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing.’ Then I heard all the living things in creation – everything that lives in the air, and on the ground, and under the ground, and in the sea, crying, ‘To the One who is sitting on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour, glory and power, for ever and ever.’ And the four animals said, ‘Amen’; and the elders prostrated themselves to worship.


Gospel Acclamation – Luke 24:32

Alleluia, alleluia!

Lord Jesus, explain the Scriptures to us.
Make our hearts burn within us as you talk to us.

Alleluia, alleluia!

Christ has risen: he who created all things, and has granted his mercy to men.

Alleluia!


The Gospel According to John 21:1-19 ©

Jesus Stepped Forward, Took the Bread and Gave It to Them, and the Same With the Fish

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.

As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.

After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He replied, ‘Yes, Lord, you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Look after my sheep.’ Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

‘I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go.’

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to God. After this he said, ‘Follow me.’


The Third Sunday of Easter (Year C)

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