Easter-3 B

Fr. Tony Kadavil:
 
1) The ghost story! There is a true story in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not about a judge in Yugoslavia who had an unfortunate accident. He was “electrocuted” when he reached up to turn on the light while standing in the bathtub. His wife found his body sprawled on the bathroom floor. She called for help--friends and neighbors, police--everyone showed up. He was pronounced dead and taken to the funeral home. The local radio picked up the story and broadcast it allover the air. In the middle of the night, the judge regained consciousness. When he realized where he was, he rushed over to alert the night watchman, who promptly ran off, terrified. The first thought of the judge was to phone his wife and reassure her. But he got no further than, "Hello darling, it’s me," when she screamed and fainted. He tried calling a couple of the neighbors, but they all thought it was some sort of a sick prank. He even went so far as to go to the homes of several friends, but they were all sure he was a ghost and slammed the door in his face. Finally, he was able to call a friend in the next town who hadn't heard of his death. This friend was able to convince his family and other friends that he really was alive. Today’s gospel tells us that Jesus had to convince the disciples that he wasn’t a ghost. He had to dispel their doubts and their fears. He showed them his hands and his feet. He invited them to touch him and see that he was real. And he even ate apiece of cooked fish with them--all to prove that he was alive and not a ghost or spirit. He stood there before them, as real and alive as he had been over the past three years. (The Auto illustrator)

2) A man at the Super Bowl. A man bought the very last seat for the Super Bowl. It was a rotten seat, closer to the blimp than to the field, but early in the first quarter, he noticed an empty seat on the 50-yard line. He scrambled down and somewhat furtively sat in the seat. "Excuse me," he asked, "is anyone sitting here?"
"No," said the man on his right.
"That's incredible. Who in his right mind would pass up a seat like this for the Super Bowl?"
"Well, actually," said the man, "the seat belongs to me. I was supposed to be here with my dear wife, but she passed away. This is the first Super bowl in twenty years that we haven't been together."
"How sad!" said the other fellow. "But couldn't you find someone to come with you, a relative or a close friend?"

"No," said the man, "they're all at the funeral of my wife!"
The widower in the story was missing something in head and heart. Emotional crisis can blur our vision of reality as happened to the apostles in today’s gospel.

Introduction
The common theme of today’s readings is a challenge that our faith in the living presence of the risen Lord should strengthen our hope in His promises, call us to true repentance for our sins and lead us to bearingwitness to Christ by our works of charity. The readings also remind us that the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection was to save us from sins. Hence they invite us to make our bearing witness to the risen Lord more effective by repenting of our sins, renewing our lives, and meeting Jesus in the Word of God and at the Eucharistic Table. The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles describes how Peter fulfills the mission of preaching Jesus. In this second sermon, Peter goes on with the preaching mission begun on Pentecost in Jerusalem, and again presents Jesus as the fulfillment of all the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. He also asks the Jews to turn toward God so that their sins might be wiped away. In the second reading, John tells us that true knowledge and love of God consist in acknowledging that Jesus is the expiation for our sins, by bearing witness to Him in our lives and by obeying His commandments. Today's gospel leads us to reflect on faith, doubts and crises. It shows us how Jesus convinced his disciples of his resurrection and how he commissioned them to be his witnesses throughout the world. He prepared them to receive God's power through the coming descent of the Holy Spirit upon them, and he commanded them to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
The first reading: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19: Saint Luke wrote for an audience of cosmopolitan, middle-class Gentiles, living in a skeptical society, yet attracted to a religion with long historic Jewish roots. This new religion reached out to all humankind. To tell that story, to ground his audience in their adopted religious heritage, and to keep them focused on the new religion's mission, Luke needed to tell the story of Jesus anew in a second book, the Acts of the Apostles. Today’s lesson is the second of five discourses preached by Peter. Today’s episode from the Acts of the Apostles reports Peter’s forceful address to the astonished crowd gathered at the Portico of Solomon in the Jerusalem Temple after a healing miracle. This reading tells us about the Jewish heritage of Christianity --how the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sent His Son Jesus as the Messiah to save the world and how his chosen people rejected him and conspired with the Romans to execute him. It also tells us how Jesus was raised from the dead and fulfilled all the messianic prophecies. The sermon concludes with the admonition to the Jews to repent of their sins and be converted. “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19). Although we were not part of that crowd demanding his death, it was our sins that Christ carried to the cross, and it was for those sins that Christ asked the Father's forgiveness from the cross. Hence we are the ones who need to reform our lives and turn to God with repentant hearts. If we believe that Christ has forgiven our sins, we must forgive the sins of others.
Second Reading, 1 John 2:1-5: In liturgical year B, we read from the First Letter of Saint John on the Sundays of Easter. This Letter was addressed to the early Christian community be set with many problems. Some members were advocating false doctrines. These errors are here recognized and rejected. Although their advocates had left the community, the threat posed by them remained. They refused to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who came into the world as a true man. They were difficult people to deal with, claiming special knowledge of God but disregarding the divine commandments, particularly the commandment of love of neighbor. Likewise, they refused to accept faith in Christ as the source of sanctification. Thus they denied the redemptive value of Jesus' death. While neither today’s reading from Luke nor the reading from Acts explains howJesus’ death and resurrection frees us from sins, John in his letter provides an explanation, calling Jesus “expiation for oursins.” This presupposes that the death of Jesus was a sacrifice, like thesacrifices prescribed in the Old Testament (Numbers 5:8). The sacrifice of Jesus makes up for sins, and so offers an opportunity for their forgiveness.Hence John advises true Christians to approach Jesusfor the forgiveness of their sins and to lead true Christian lives by obeyinghis commandments.

Exegesis

The context: The two disciplesto whom Our Lord appeared on their way to Emmaus, returnedhurriedly to Jerusalem to report the glad news. They discovered that theapostles were convinced, by that time, of the resurrection of Jesus becauseSimon also had seen him. While they were discussing these things Jesusappeared in their midst. This story was told and retold and recorded byLuke for at least three reasons:
(1) Jesus' death andresurrection fit God's purpose as revealed in scripture;
(2) the risen Jesus is presentin the breaking of bread; and
(3) the risen Jesus is alsophysically absent from the disciples.
The facts emphasized:
1)The reality of Christ’s resurrection. By inviting his apostles to lookclosely at him and touch him, Jesus removed any fear that they were seeing aghost. By eating a piece of fish before their eyes, he convinced them thatthey are not dreaming or having a mere vision or hallucination.
2) The necessity of the cross: Jesusexplained that his death on the cross had not been the result of a failedplan. Instead, it was part of God's eternal plan to showHis love for His people by subjecting His Son to suffering anddeath.
3) The Resurrection of Jesus gives meaning to the OldTestament prophecies. Bible scholars cite 324 Messianic propheciesscattered throughout the Old Testament, especially in the prophets and inPsalms. Jesus explained to his disciples how these prophecies had beenfulfilled in him.
4) Emphasis on the disciples' missionary task ofpreaching repentance. Jesus told the disciples what they were topreach, namely: a) that the Son of God was crucified and died on thecross for the expiation of our sins; b) that he rose from the dead and conquereddeath; and c) that all people must repent of their sins and obtain forgivenessin his name. In this gospel passage, Jesus also commanded Hisdisciples to remain in Jerusalem and pray for the coming of the HolySpirit.

Life messages :

1) Renew the "Upper Room Experience" in the Holy Mass: The same Jesus who,in the upper room of the Cenacle, prepared his disciples for their preachingand witnessing mission, is present with us in the Eucharisticcelebration. He invites us to share in the "Liturgy of the Word ofGod" and inThe Liturgy of Bread andWine." In the first part of the Mass, Jesus speaks to usthrough the "Word of God." In the second part, He becomes ourspiritual food and drink. Thus, today's gospel scene is repeated everySunday on our parish altars. Like the early disciples, we come togetherto repent of our sins, express our thanks for the blessings received, listen toGod’s words and offer ourselves to God along with our gifts of bread andwine. We also share in the spiritual food Jesus supplies,and we are sent to share his message with the entire world.
2) Jesus needs us as witnesses tocontinue his mission. Jesus needs Spirit-filled followers to be his eyes, earsand hands and to bear witness to his love, mercy andforgiveness. The church badly needs dedicated witnesses: priests,Brothers, Sisters, teachers, doctors, and nurses – all of us. Theessence of bearing witness is to testify by our lives that the power of therisen Jesus has touched and transformed us. In other words, Jesus is tospeak to other people through us. In Calcutta, a dying oldwoman with her head in the lap of Mother Teresa, looked at her for a long time,and, in a feeble voice, asked: "Are you the God Jesus wholoves the poor and the sick"?

3) Let our daily lives be the means of experiencing andsharing the risen Lord with others. Just as the disciples experienced theirrisen Lord in their community, let us learn to feel the presence of Jesus inour own homes, social service centers, nursing facilities, hospitals andschools. These are also the places where we have the opportunity toconvey our peace and joy to others.
4) Beagents with Jesus in the establishing of the Kingdom in our world: Jesus wants us to be a community whichshares and cares and in which everything is shared; a community which knows how to recognize Jesus in the poor,in the marginalized, in the sick; a community to bring healing into people's lives; and a community of peacemakers andnot makers of division or conflict.

Additional Anecdotes

1) "What in the world happened to you?"A man showed up at church with both hisears painfully blistered. After the service, his concerned pastor asked"What in the world happened to you?" The man replied, "I waslying on the couch yesterday afternoon watching a ball game on TV and my wifewas ironing nearby. I was totally engrossed in the game when she left the room,leaving the iron near the phone. The phone rang and keeping my eyes glued tothe television, I grabbed the hot iron and put it to my ear." "So howdid the other ear get burned?" the pastor asked. "Well, I had no morethan hung up and the guy called again." (COUNTRY, Oct-Nov 1994, p. 45,"Overheard at the Country Cafe," Bill Teweles.) Now there is a manwho was focused. He was so caught up in watching the game, he didn't know whathe was doing. In our gospel lesson for today the disciples of Jesus have losttheir focus. They are confused and weary. They need a break.
2) “Dr. Louis Pasteur, Academy of Science, Paris.” A train was racing for Paris. In one of itscompartments two men sat opposite each other. The first was a youngmedical research student who was bored by the long journey. The other wasan old man reciting his rosary with closed eyes. The young researcherbegan to ridicule the old man for his superstitious beliefs. He then wenton to tell of the wonders of medical science. The old man justnodded, smiled and continued his prayer in spite of the humiliating comments ofhis fellow passenger. When they reached the Paris station, the old manenquired where the youngster was going. The young man proudlyannounced that he was going to attend a lecture by the world famous scientist,Louis Pasteur. The old man took out a visiting card from his pocket, gaveit to the young man and bid him farewell. The card read: "Dr. LouisPasteur, Academy of Science, Paris.” Pride andprejudice often blur our vision and occasionally blind us to reality,leading us to wrong judgments as it happened to the apostles in today’s gospel.

3) “We can see your love and loyaltyin your hands." Tolstoy once told a story of a Czar and Czarina whowished to honor the members of their court with a banquet. They sent outinvitations and requested that the guests come with the invitations in theirhands. When they arrived at the banquet the guests were surprised to discoverthat the guards did not look at their invitations at all. Instead they examinedtheir hands. The guests wondered about this, but they were also curious to seewho the Czar and Czarina would choose as the guest of honor to sit between themat the banquet. They were flabbergasted to see that it was the old scrub womanwho had worked to keep the palace clean for years. The guards, having examinedher hands, declared, "You have the proper credentials to be the guest ofhonor. We can see your love and loyalty in your hands." In today’s gospelJesus challenges the unbelieving disciples: "See my hands and my feet..." They were invited to removetheir superstitious doubt that he was aghost.
4) Witnessing with power: The grandfather of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber waslame. One day they asked him to tell a story about his teacher, and he relatedhow his master used to hop and dance while he prayed. The old man rose as hespoke and was so swept away by his story that he himself began to hop and danceto show how his master did it. From that moment he was cured of his lameness.When we tell the story of Christ, we achieve two things. We enable others toexperience him and we ourselves experience his power even more. We can see thathappening in today’s gospel.
5) The Godfather” In the early 70s, theMafia, especially in New York City, was washed up and worn out. Then the movie“The Godfather” came out. More than anything else, it was that movie thatbrought the Mafia back to life. “The Godfather” movie energized them and toldthem who they were. They weren’t thugs. They were just like every other ethnicgroup: trying to get their piece of the pie, trying to make the dream of theAmerican Promised Land come true. And that was the beginning of their comeback.This morning, we are like the disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion: washed up,worn down, bummed out creatures. Then Jesus changed everything. It was Jesus’appearance and assurance that energized them and reminded them of who they wereand could be. This morning, Jesus appears to us in his Word, we who are washedup, worn down, bummed out creatures, energizing us with the mission of who weare and who we can be—if only we “Trust and Obey.”
6) Run foryour lives! Run for your lives! The philosopher SorenKierkegaard once told a story about a circus thatcaught fire. The flames from the circus fire spread to the fields surroundingthe circus grounds and began to burn toward the village below. The circusmaster, convinced that the village would be destroyed and the people killedunless they were warned, asked if there was anybody who could go to the villageand warn the people. The clown, dressed in full costume, jumped on a bicycleand sped down the hill to the village below. "Run for your lives! Run foryour lives! A fire is coming and the village is going to burn!" he shoutedas he rode up and down the streets of the village. "The village is goingto burn! Run for your lives!" Curious, the villagers came out of theirhouses and shops and stood along the sidewalks. They shouted back to the clown,laughing and applauding his performance. The more desperately the clownshouted, the more the villagers cheered. The village burned to the ground andthe loss of life was great because no one took the clown seriously. After all,he was just a clown. (Kierkegard, Soren,Parables of Kierkegard (Princeton, New Jersey:Princeton University Press 1978)). It's startling the amount of influence wedon't have when we look like clowns and don't live like Jesus. And when wedon't live our faith, we're startled when our faith is challenged or when itcomes under attack even though Jesus said this would be normal for Christianswho truly lived their faith. But the most startling thing of all is that thisstartling Savior, Jesus, still reaches out in startling encounters and changeslives.
7) Like the story of Luiqi Tarisio who, some years ago was found dead onemorning with hardly any creature comforts in his home, except the presence of246 exquisite violins. He had been collecting them all his life. They were allstored in the attic. The best violins were found in the bottom drawer of an oldrickety bureau. The greatest of his collection, a Stradivarius, when it wasfinally played, had had 147 speechless years. In his very devotion to theviolin, he had robbed the world of all that exquisite music. How many ofChrist's people are like old Tarisio? In our very love of the church we fail togive the glad tidings to the world; in our zeal for the truth we forget topublish it. When shall we all learn that the Good News needs not just to becherished, but needs to be told? Don't bury God's Good News of Easter at thebottom of a rickety old bureau. Let the people hear the great sound of themusic: He is Risen!
8) “I don’treally belong here, I’m simply staying here.” Malcolm Muggeridge died in the fall of 1990. He was a highly intelligent man who served at varioustimes in his life as a foreign correspondent, newspaper editor, editor of Punchmagazine, and as a well-known television personality in Great Britain. It wasas an adult, rather late in his life, that he finally became a Christian. Hewrote of his dilemma as a journalist-turned-believer in his works such JesusRediscovered, Christ and the Media, Something Beautiful for God,and his multivolume autobiography, Chronicles of Wasted Time. The“wasted time” he wrote about were those wasted years before he knew Christ ashis Savior. Muggeridge frequently spoke and wrote of “feeling like a stranger”in the world. In an interview a few years before his death, Muggeridge wasasked if he would be willing to explain that feeling. His answer is worthrepeating: “I’d very gladly do so, because I’ve thought about it often. In thewar, when I was in North Africa, I heard some lieutenant colonel first use thephrase ‘displaced person.’ That phrase was very poignant to me, but it’s also avery good definition of a person who’s come to see that life is not aboutcarnal things, or success, but is about eternity rather than time . . . I don’treally belong here, I’m simply staying here.” (Charles Swindoll, Maybe It’sTime to Laugh. Cited by Dicky Love in Parables, etc.) Have you madethat discovery yet? There is no joy in half-hearted faith. Many of us have justenough religion to make us miserable. But Christ wants to make our lives amiracle. Those early disciples had trouble believing, first for fear, and thenfor joy, but when they did believe, it turned their lives and their worldupside down. The point is that Muggeridge experienced a radical change in hislife after he came to the realization that Christ is real and that Christ isalive. But what he discovered much to his amazement was that his new life wasso far superior to his old life that he in no way would ever turn back.
9) "What is the first name of the woman who cleansthis building?" A nurse in training went to one of her classes oneday. The professor announced that there would be a pop quiz. She breezedthrough the questions, until she came to the last question. The last questionwas this: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans thisbuilding?" She thought it must be some kind of a joke. Whoever heard ofthat kind of a question on a test? She had seen the cleaning woman. She coulddescribe her physically, but why should she know her name? She handed in hertest, leaving the last question unanswered. She asked the professor, "Areyou going to count that last question on the final score?""Absolutely," said the professor, "In your careers you are goingto meet many people. Each one is significant. Each person deserves yourattention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello." Today’sgospel reminds us that for the risenLord, each of his apostles was important. (From Buzz Stevens)
10)"You see, she also married my expectation of heaven!" There isanother beautiful love story. It concerns the love of Paul Tournier, one of theworld's most beloved and respected Christian doctors, for his wife Nelly. Inone of his books, Tournier describes how he and Nelly were able to talk aboutdeath after her first serious bout with coronary thrombosis while they were inGreece. She knew how gravely ill she was and that a second attack could leaveher severely handicapped or could even be fatal. Their last month together wasa time of intimate sharing. On the last day she said to him, "Perhaps itwould have been better if I had died of my heart attack a month ago."Tournier responded, "And yet my Greek colleagues have done a good job.They saved your life. You are glad of that." "Yes, of course,"she said, "if I can get back to Geneva and see my children andgrandchildren." She was silent for a moment, and then added, "But ifI had died, I should be in heaven now, and I should be meeting yourparents." Tournier was touched by this. He writes, "You see, she alsomarried my expectation of heaven!" He replied to her, "Well, when youarrive in heaven, my parents will thank you for having been the wife that youhave been for their son." It was to be Tournier's last words to her. Amoment later she put her hand on her heart and exclaimed, "That'sit!" He asked, "Are you sure?" She answered "Yes." Andshe was in heaven.( Paul Tournier, A LISTENING EAR (Minneapolis: AugsburgPublishing House, 1984). The world simply cannot deal with that kind ofexpectation. Without the Easter faith not only death but life itself isultimately meaningless. What value is there in love that ends beside a grave?

11)“They would not use the same rope that had been used by the"untouchables." Some years ago the papers were full of a storyabout the death of seventy-eight people in New Delhi, India. There had been abus accident and in the bus had been two castes of Indians. A man tied a ropeto a tree, and all eleven "untouchables" climbed out to safety. Butseventy-eight Indians died because they would not use the same rope that hadbeen used by the "untouchables." (George F. Regas, KISS YOURSELF ANDHUG THE WORLD (Waco: Word Books, 1987).) How outrageous are the claims of theGospel. The divine Creator of all that lives and moves and has its being, camedown to earth and suffered and died to say to us that no one on this earth isuntouchable.

12) We will raise youup: The priest (“poojary”) of a small Hinducongregation in a tribal area in India was being proselytized by some energeticChristian missionaries. He listened for a while and then said tothem: “Gentlemen, look. I have a proposal that will settlethis. I have here a glass of nux vomica, a poison which I use tokill rats. If you will drink this poison and remain alive as your GodJesus Christ promised, I will join your religion – and not only myself, but myentire Hindu congregation. But if you won’t drink the poison, well, then,I can only conclude that you are false ministers of the gospel you preachbecause you do not trust that your Lord would not let you perish.” This created a problem for the missionaries. They conferredwith each other and said, “What on earth are we going to do?” Finally, they arrived at a plan of action. They came back, approached theHindu priest and said, “Here is our plan. You drink thepoison, and we’ll raise you from the dead by the power of Jesus!” Ourscripture for this third Sunday of Easter is about believers. But it is also about doubting and wondering and trying to figure thingsout.

Jokes

SYNOPSIS FOR EASTER SUNDAY III (APRIL 22, 2012) ON LK 24: 35-48
Introduction
The common theme of today’s readings is the challenge to adjust our lives in the living presence of the risen Lord, well aware of his presence, within us and all around us as his Holy Spirit. This awareness should strengthen our hope in his promises, bring us to the true repentance for our sins and the renewal of our lives, and lead us to bear witness to Christ by our works of charity. The readings also remind us that the purpose of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus was to save us from sins.
Scripture Lessons

The first reading from the Acts of the Apostlesdescribes Peter’s second sermon addressing the Jewish assembly at the Portico of Solomon in Jerusalem. Peter forcefully declares how the messianic prophecie shave been fulfilled in the crucified and risen Jesus and challenges the Jews toturn toward God so that their sins may be wipedaway. Answering doubts raised by the early heretics of histime, John in the second reading asserts the fundamentalChristian doctrine that Jesus’ death was a sacrifice offered for the expiationfor our sins. Today's gospel describes Jesus’ appearance to his apostlesin their hiding place in the Upper Room of the Cenacle. It tells us how Jesusremoved the doubts of his apostles about his resurrection by inviting them totouch him and by eating a piece of cooked fish. Jesus explained to them how theprophecies had been fulfilled in him. Then he commissioned them to bear witnessto him and preach "repentance andforgiveness of sins in his name afterreceiving the Holy Spirit."

Life Messages

1) Share the apostles’"Upper Room Experience" in the Holy Mass: The same Jesus who, inthe upper room of the Cenacle, prepared his disciples for their preaching andwitnessing mission, is present with us in the Eucharistic celebration. In the"Liturgy of the Word of God," Jesus speaks to us. In the"Liturgy of Bread and Wine," Jesus becomes our spiritual food anddrink. Thus, today's gospel scene is repeated every Sunday on our parishaltars. Like the early disciples, we come together to repent of our sins,express our gratitude for the blessings received, listen to God’s words andoffer our lives to God along with our petitions and His gifts of bread andwine. We also share in the spiritual food Jesus supplies, thus gainingthe strength necessary for sharing his message with the entire world mainly byliving transparent Christian lives.
2) Jesus needs us as witnesses to continue his mission. Jesus needs Spirit-filled followers to be his eyes, ears and hands and to bearwitness to his love, mercy and forgiveness.
3) Let our dailylives be the means of experiencing and sharing the risen Lord with others. Just as the disciples experienced theirrisen Lord in their community, let us learn to feel the presence of Jesus inour own homes, social service centers, nursing facilities, hospitals andschools. Jesus wants us to be a community which shares and cares, a community which knows how to recognize Jesus in the poor,in the marginalized, in the sick.
 
By Andrew Greely Background:  

The problem for those who tried to harmonize all the resurrection stories in the Gospel is that there are too many of them. How could one story be right and another wrong?   

Such anguish comes from a failure to understand how the gospels were composed. There was no single tradition written down a few weeks after Pentecost and then preserved carefully until the Gospel authors settled down to write. Rather different bits and pieces of Jesus stories were save by various of his followers and then handed down orally for decades. The point of the stories was never lost, but the form changed as they were told and retold. Then the Gospel writers, each with his own purpose and style, gathered together the stories that fit their narrative.   
Today’s Gospel may be the most charming -- the risen Jesus appears out of the morning mists on the shores of Galilee which he walked once before. It is not surprising that it is a well told story because the author of John’s Gospel was a master story teller (and also, perhaps surprisingly, a powerful mystic). Thus is story of the Feast at Cana and the woman at the well are enchanting tales if we permit them to be so.   
Did Jesus actually meet his followers on the beaches of the Lake after he rose from the dead? Who would dare deny it? Yet did the author of John remember the dialogue many decades later?   
Finally did he understand something about the risen Jesus that no one had made quite so clear before? Who would are deny that? 
 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Story:  
Once upon a time a great woman’s softball coach had to retire because her family was moving away. The young women on the team were terribly disappointed because she was such a good coach and so sympathetic to all their problems. However, they thought that maybe she agreed to the family move because she was so fed up the adolescent personalities on her team. When she said good by to them, she told them that they had great potential if they’d only chill out and play their very best. Well, they made it very difficult for the next quote who quit before the year was over.  
The next year they stumbled and bumbled through the season but made it to the play offs. No one gave them a chance to get beyond the first round. They were a bunch of spoiled cry babies. Then when the opening game of the playoffs began, they saw their old coach in the stands. She waved at them and smiled. They knew they were being forgiven for all their miscues and idiocies. She loved them even when they were nerds.
So they played like their lives depended on it and won the championship. 
 Story: Once upon a time a great woman’s softball coach had to retire because her family was moving away. The young women on the team were terribly disappointed because she was such a good coach and so sympathetic to all their problems. However, they thought that maybe she agreed to the family move because she was so fed up the adolescent personalities on her team. When she said good by to them, she told them that they had great potential if they’d only chill out and play their very best. Well, they made it very difficult for the next quote who quit before the year was over.  
The next year they stumbled and bumbled through the season but made it to the play offs. No one gave them a chance to get beyond the first round. They were a bunch of spoiled cry babies. Then when the opening game of the playoffs began, they saw their old coach in the stands. She waved at them and smiled. They knew they were being forgiven for all their miscues and idiocies. She loved them even when they were nerds.

So they played like their lives depended on it and won the championship.
**************
Sermons for Easter 3

Luke 24:35-48 - "See My Hands and My Feet"
Luke 24:35-48 - "Red, White and Pink" by Leonard Sweet

 Tolstoy once told a story of a Czar and Czarina who wished to honor the members of their court with a banquet. They sent out invitations and requested that the guests come with the invitations in their hands. When they arrived at the banquet the guests were surprised to discover that the guards did not look at their invitations at all. Instead they examined their hands. The guests wondered about this, but they were also curious to see who the Czar and Czarina would choose as the guest of honor to sit between them at the banquet. They were flabbergasted to see that it was the old scrub woman who had worked to keep the palace clean for years. The guards, having examined her hands, declared, "You have the proper credentials to be the guest of honor. We can see your love and loyalty in your hands."

A similar story is told of the great missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson. Judson went to the King of Burma to ask him if he might have permission to go to a certain city to preach. The King, a pagan, but quite an intelligent man responded, "I'm willing for a dozen preachers to go but not you, not with those hands. My people are not such fools as to take notice of your preaching but they will note those calloused, work scarred hands."

After his crucifixion, the disciples of Jesus were trying to sort out the meaning of the reports they had been receiving about appearances of the risen Christ. It was most confusing to them. Was it a hoax? They were not completely immune to superstition. Perhaps it was some kind of ghost. Suddenly it happened. Jesus himself stood among them. The disciples were startled and frightened. Then Jesus said to them, "Why are you troubled and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself..." The response of the disciples is a sermon in itself. Luke tells us that they "disbelieved for joy..." It was simply too wonderful to be true. He was alive and he was with them right there. No wonder they had difficulty believing. Some persons still have that problem today. Many desperately want to believe but something holds them back. "See my hands and my feet..."

1. It Is Difficult to Believe God Cares That Much.
2. It Is Difficult to Believe Life Goes on Beyond the Tomb.
3. We Have Trouble Processing the Implications of These Two Truths.

Have you done time in the "pink aisle"?


If you've been there, you know what I mean. It's that entire section in Target or Toys'R'Us or wherever you shop, that glows with a Pepto-Bismol-bright pink haze. The corridor you trundle your shopping cart down is awash in pinks . . .
there is Barbie and all her accessories,
there are dolls of lesser nobility and parentage,
there are fingerpaints, Frisbees, . ..

Whatever sits on those shelves, they all give off a ghastly pink glow. Stores really should provide special protective eyeshades to their shoppers before letting them venture down those dreaded "pink zones."

The problem with the "pink aisle" isn't really its color (although, let's face it, YES it is!) The problem with the "pink aisle" is that somewhere along the line some marketing executive determined that all the "girl stuff" would be relegated to a "pink zone" and branded with that awful shade of pink.

What had been a sweet "pink-for-girls, blue-for-boys" baby-shower tradition has become a hide-bound marketing mantra. Pink is a pre-requisite for marketing success. Pink is an absolute requirement. Pink is the dictator of what is acceptable for selling to a certain segment of the economy.
In short, pink is no longer a color. Pink is now a religion. Individuality and the rainbow of color possibilities are martyred to the iron law of "pink."
Unfortunately, what happens in the toy store doesn't stay in the toy store. What happens in the "pink aisle" doesn't stay in the "pink aisle." The dictates of convention and conformity, of cultural expectations and day-to-day demands, forces all of us to "put on the pink" if we want to get-along, go-along, and get-ahead. We become human pack animals. We live lemming lives.
Bring together a group of five-year-olds and ask how many of them sing. Every hand will go up. Bring the same group together when they're twelve, and ask how many of them sing. One hand will go up, the young "professional" singer and performer. What happens between five years of age and twelve that our children lose their song, the one-of-a-kind, unrepeatable, irreplaceable song God made them to be?

Teenagers are those most actively struggling to find their own identity. They invest huge amounts of psychic energy breaking free from authority figures and childhood expectations. They struggle to be completely "themselves." So why do they end up looking alike?
The power of ruling "cliques" and the yearning for popularity and acceptance end up homogenizing all but the most daring. I remember as a teenager thinking----I might not be doing what I'd really like to do, but at least I'm not doing what is expected of me either. I remember the day when I realized I was conforming, but to a kind of "conformity" that was driving my parents crazy.
And this is not something that just goes on when we are kids. Moms and Dads "martyr" themselves to their children's lives and needs. Too many career professionals martyr free time and family time to rungs on a corporate ladder. Athletes martyr their bodies and their health to gain one more goal, eke out one last season, make one final shot. Musicians martyr their creativity and muse to a contract and record label.

As we take on college, careers, families, relationships, and responsibilities we increasingly all become "martyrs" - we sacrifice our dreams; we don't take "the road less taken;" we martyr our uniqueness to live predictable, conventional, acceptable versions of our lives. We martyr our energy to collecting baubles and trinkets. We martyr our originality to the pink aisles of consumer culture and celebrity worship.

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 We Are Made for God

Jesus knew that if his resurrection was going to do the world any good-if the disciples were really going to be able to proclaim a message of Good News that the world could hear and accept-then the resurrection had to be seen as something more than just the world's greatest divine parlor trick, more than just the ultimate surprise ending that would startle and jolt everyone who heard about it. No, the truth of Easter and the reality of Jesus' return from the dead had to be the capstone on a much larger story that went all the way back to the beginning. It must be seen as something toward which God has been working all along because then and only then can we understand that this has something to do with the core purpose for which we all were created in the first place. Somehow Easter does more than just offer the kind of generic "new beginning" and "fresh start" that some churches seem to reduce it to each year.

Easter does not mean that a better day is coming by and by, that with a little bit of luck we can turn things around in our lives, or that there is no situation so difficult that God cannot cause a bright new day to dawn upon us. No, Easter means we were made for God. Easter means we were made for flourishing before the face of our God. And Easter means that the sin and evil that put up obstacles and caused a gaping chasm between us and God will not stand. God will bring all things back to their created intent. God will restore all things to himself. Easter is not only about the end of the cosmic story but is also a vindication of the beginning.

Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations
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The Only Easter Some Will Know

Jesus returns from the dead and meets his disciples in different places: the garden, the Emmaus Road, the seashore, the Upper Room. He witnesses to them that he is alive, this guy back from the dead with a body. He isn't content to send them a postcard from heaven: HAVING A GREAT TIME. WISH YOU WERE HERE. No. He shows up among them as his own witness.

And he recruits as witnesses those other people with bodies. He wants them to move out and tell everyone who will listen and everyone who won't that bodies count, that he's back from the dead with a body, threatening them with life.

Those who recognize his witness become witnesses themselves. They put their bodies on the line. They become contagious with the forgiveness they've caught, carriers of resurrection.

That's what this back-to-life Jesus wants of us: not names on a list, or what someone has called "pew potatoes." Jesus wants us as witnesses. Not airy spirits or pious ghosts, but bodies like his own with wounds to show, bodies that witness to resurrection, threatening the world with life. For the only Easter some people may ever see is the Easter they see in you and me.

Charles Hoffacker, A Guy With a Body
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Taste and See

An elderly woman made her living selling artificial fruit. One day a customer complained the fruit she sold was not realistic enough. She pointed to an apple, saying it was too red, too round and too big to be a real apple. At that point the artificial fruit lady picked up the apple and proceeded to eat it.

The resurrection of Jesus, throughout the years has been critically examined, judged by authorities, and editorialized by writers, and the conclusion of most is that it is simply an event which can not be proven and probably too good to be true. It may look like an apple but in actuality it is artificial fruit, they conclude. But if you will pick it up and take a bite you come to know that he really did rise from the grave. He is alive. He is listening to our prayers. He is ready to serve when that service deals with the human heart in need of a shepherd's guidance and love.

George Bernard Shaw, the famous playwright, was handed a newly written play by a fledgling playwright. Shaw was asked to give the young man a criticism of the work a few days later. "How did you like it?" asked the author. "I fell asleep reading it," said Shaw. "Sleep is my comment on your work."

My friend there is nothing boring about the resurrection. Easter dawns upon a world hidden in darkness. Easter awakens every sleeper with the news that preacher of peace, the Prince of

Power and the Lord of Love has appeared. Christianity is real. Christianity is alive. Christianity is anything but boring. Let us all wake up and smell the roses. Let us resolve to live our lives as if Jesus were a guest in our homes, workplaces and businesses. The truth is that the Lord is here, there and everywhere. He is alive. He is our Risen Lord to whom we offer our discipleship with love.


The song goes, "They'll know we are Christians by our love." Let us be about our Father's business as we serve him with joy. Let us show and tell others the good news of the gospel.


Brett Blair, www.eSermons.com, adapted from Charles Michael Mills, To Dawn: Sermons For Lent And Easter Cycle B Gospel Texts, Lima: CSS Publishing Company, Inc.

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He Was Not a Ghost


While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" (Luke 24:41). And now he has made the sacramental moment back into a meal.


That is so Luke. The Physician. Mr. Everything-is-flesh-and-blood; you're either poor or you're not poor; you're either hungry or you're not hungry; you're either sick or you're not sick; none of the in-between "Well, maybe we're poor in a spiritual sense." For Luke it's always a question of people's physical well-being. And physically, Jesus, who on Good Friday was completely dead, is now so completely alive that he wants something to eat. He is not a ghost.


There was some talk in the early church that maybe he was a ghost when he came back. He was not a ghost. He was not a shadow of his former self; he was his former self restored to life, victorious over death. This is not a metaphysical encounter, but a physical one. It was not an illusion, not a dream, but flesh and bone and blood.

Keith Grogg, A Ghost Does Not Have Flesh and Bones
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The Living Christ


As a young man, Mahatma Gandhi studied in London. After learning about Christianity, and after reading the Sermon on the Mount, he decided that Christianity was the most complete religion in the world. It was only later, when he lived with a Christian family in East India, that he changed his mind. In that household he discovered that the word rarely became flesh -- that the teaching of Jesus rarely became the reality of Jesus.


How "fleshy" is Jesus in our congregations? How persuasive is our teaching? How passionate is our preaching? How much do our hearts burn within us when the scriptures are opened to us? And how often do we recognize the stranger as the living Christ in our midst?

Susan R. Andrews, "Holy Heartburn," article in the Christian Century

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Go to the World


Jesus did not command the whole world to go to church. Jesus commanded his church to go to the whole world.


Traditional

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Christ Understands Us


The gospels of the New Testament do not demand that we understand Christ. Rather, they offer the burden-lightening insight that Christ understands us. We do not have to understand Easter to experience Easter.


Christ's capacity for understanding defies our comprehension. This one who inspires magnificent visions also ministers amid shattered dreams. This one known as the Prince of Peace does not shy away from chaos and conflict. This one who taught us to pray accepts people who are so troubled that they can't pray. This one who offers salvation identifies with people confounded by feelings of lostness. This one who offers unmatched encouragement knows better than any other the depths of discouragement.


Do you hear? Do you grasp the meaning? If you did not sense the joy of Easter morning, if you have not felt Christ rise, if you cannot shout hallelujah, that does not mean that you must drop your head and take off toward Emmaus or some other place to give up. Christ understands. He understands you. So, Christ appears.


The presence of Christ among us does not depend upon the quality of our understanding of Christ or even upon the nature of our reception of his presence. Christ appears in the midst of people not even looking for him.

C. Welton Gaddy, For Those Who Missed Easter
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The Secret of Power


The story is told of the explorer who some years ago had just returned to his country from the Amazon. The people at home were eager to learn all about the vast and mighty river and the country surrounding it. How he wondered, could he ever describe it to them - how could he ever put into words the feelings that flooded into his heart when he saw the exotic flowers and heard the night sounds of the jungle. How could he communicate to them the smells the filled the air and the sense of danger and excitement that would come whenever he and his fellows explorers encountered strange animals or paddled through treacherous rapids?


So the explorer did what all good explorers do - he said to the people, "go and find out for yourselves what it is like", and to help them he drew a map of the river pointing out the various features of its course and describing some of the dangers and some of the routes that could be used to avoid those dangers.


The people took the map and they framed and hung it on the wall of the local science museum so that everyone could look at it...