Easter 3 B

HOMILY FOR EASTER SUNDAY III (APRIL 22, 2012) LUKE 24: 35-48
Readings

First Reading: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19
Second Reading: 1 John 2: 1-5
Gospel: Luke 24: 35-48

Anecdotes



1) The ghost story! There is a true story in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not about a judge in Yugoslavia who had anunfortunate accident. He was “electrocuted” when he reached up to turn onthe light while standing in the bathtub. His wife found his body sprawledon the bathroom floor. She called for help--friends and neighbors,police--everyone showed up. He was pronounced dead and taken to thefuneral home. The local radio picked up the story and broadcast it allover the air. In the middle of the night, the judge regainedconsciousness. When he realized where he was, he rushedover to alert the night watchman, who promptly ran off, terrified. Thefirst thought of the judge was to phone his wife and reassure her. But he got no further than, "Hello darling, it’s me," when shescreamed and fainted. He tried calling a couple of the neighbors, butthey all thought it was some sort of a sick prank. He even went so far asto go to the homes of several friends, but they were all sure he was a ghostand slammed the door in his face. Finally, he was able to call afriend in the next town who hadn't heard of his death. This friend wasable to convince his family and other friends that he really was alive. Today’s gospel tells us that Jesus had toconvince the disciples that he wasn’t a ghost. He had to dispel theirdoubts and their fears. He showed them his hands and his feet. Heinvited 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 aliveand not a ghost or spirit. He stood there beforethem, as real and alive as he had been over the past three years. (The Autoillustrator)
2) A man at the Super Bowl. A man bought the very last seat for the SuperBowl. It was a rotten seat, closer to the blimp than to the field, butearly in the first quarter, he noticed an empty seat on the 50-yard line. He scrambled down and somewhat furtively sat in the seat. "Excuseme," 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 likethis for the Super Bowl?"
"Well, actually," said the man, "the seat belongs to me. Iwas supposed to be here with my dear wife, but she passed away. This is thefirst Super bowl in twenty years that we haven't been together."
"How sad!" said the other fellow. "But couldn't you findsomeone to come with you, a relative or a close friend?"

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

Introduction

The common theme of today’s readings is a challenge that our faith in theliving presence of the risen Lord should strengthen our hope in Hispromises, call us to true repentance for our sins and lead us to bearingwitness to Christ by our works of charity. The readings alsoremind us that the purposeof Jesus’ death and resurrection was to save us from sins. Hencethey invite us to make our bearing witness to the risen Lord more effective byrepenting of our sins, renewing our lives, and meeting Jesus in the Word of Godand at the Eucharistic Table. The first reading from the Acts of theApostles describes how Peter fulfills the mission of preaching Jesus. Inthis second sermon, Peter goes on with the preaching mission begun on Pentecostin Jerusalem, and again presents Jesus as the fulfillment of all the Messianicprophecies of the Old Testament. He also asks the Jews to turn toward God so that theirsins might be wiped away. In the second reading, John tellsus that true knowledge and love of God consist in acknowledging that Jesus isthe expiation for our sins, bybearing witness to Him in our lives and by obeying His commandments. Today's gospel leads us to reflect on faith, doubts andcrises. It shows us how Jesus convinced his disciples of his resurrectionand how he commissioned them to be his witnesses throughout the world. Heprepared them to receive God's power through the coming descent of theHoly Spirit upon them, and he commanded them to preach repentance and theforgiveness of sins.
The first reading: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19: Saint Luke wrote for anaudience of cosmopolitan, middle-class Gentiles, living in a skeptical society,yet attracted to a religion with long historic Jewish roots. This newreligion reached out to all humankind. To tell that story, to groundhis audience in their adopted religious heritage, and to keep them focused onthe new religion's mission, Luke needed to tell the story of Jesus anew in a secondbook, the Acts of the Apostles. Today’s lesson is the second of five discourses preached by Peter. Today’s episode from the Acts of theApostles reports Peter’s forceful address to the astonished crowd gatheredat 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 Messiahto save the world and how his chosen people rejected him and conspired withthe Romans to execute him. It also tells us how Jesus was raisedfrom the dead and fulfilled all the messianic prophecies. The sermonconcludes with the admonition to the Jews to repent of their sins andbe converted. “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that yoursins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:19). Although we were not part ofthat crowd demanding his death, it was our sins that Christ carried to thecross, and it was for those sins that Christ asked the Father'sforgiveness from the cross. Hence we are the ones who need to reform ourlives and turn to God with repentant hearts. If we believe that Christhas forgiven our sins, we must forgive the sins of others.
Second Reading, 1 John 2:1-5: Inliturgical year B, we read from the First Letter of Saint John on the Sundaysof Easter. This Letter was addressed to the early Christian communitybeset with many problems. Some members were advocating false doctrines. Theseerrors are here recognized and rejected. Although their advocates had left thecommunity, the threat posed by them remained. They refused to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God whocame into the world as a true man. They were difficult peopleto deal with, claiming special knowledge of God but disregarding the divinecommandments, 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. Whileneither today’s reading from Luke northe reading from Acts explains howJesus’ death and resurrection frees us from sins, John in hisletter 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 sacrificeof 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 Porticoof Solomon in Jerusalem. Peter forcefully declares how the messianic prophecieshave 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.