Acts 3:11-26 / Luke 24:35-48
***Octave of Easter Thursday: Liturgy
Jesus instructs his disciples: “You are to be my witnesses.”
Jesus underscores three things in this reading:
(1) the reality of the resurrection,
(2) the necessity of the cross, and
(3) the urgency of the task of preaching the Good News to all nations.
First, the reality of the resurrection. Jesus says in effect, “Look at me eat! Touch me! I’m not a phantom or a ghost. I am really Jesus; I have risen!”
Second, the necessity of the cross. Jesus says, “It is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead.”
Third, the urgency of preaching the Good News. Jesus says that repentance must be preached in the Messiah’s name to all nations.
What are we doing, personally? to help preach repentance to all nations? “Every believer in this world must become a spark of light.” John XXIII in Pacem in Terris
Nobody likes to look at wound, because the sight of wounds gives us a squirmish feeling, especially grievous wounds. We could also feel the pain of the wounds and the suffering that they cause. When Jesus showed His disciples His hand and feet, they would have certainly seen one thing. They would have certainly seen the grievous wounds in His hands and feet, wounds that were caused by the nails, wounds that were the signs of His crucifixion. But after Jesus showed them His wounds, their fear turned to joy!
Indeed, by His wounds and by the sight of His wounds, they were healed of their fear and their anguish of having deserted and abandoned Jesus in His darkest and loneliest moment. As we look at the wounds of the Risen Lord, Jesus in turn also wants to look at the wounds of our hearts. He wants us to show Him our wounds, to tell Him what is troubling and disturbing us, to tell Him our hurts and pains, as well as our anger and resentment. Because Jesus is the Risen Lord; He is also our Saviour and our Healer.
As the 1st reading puts it: It was for you in the first place that God raised up His servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways. Indeed, by the wounds of the Risen Lord, we are healed and saved. We only need to turn to Jesus and show Him our wounds for healing and salvation.
WITNESSES TO THE RISEN LORD
We gather for our Eucharist because we firmly believe that Christ died for us and he is risen from the dead. We gather around the risen Lord to open our hearts and minds to his word and to let him fill us with his living presence. He tells us, as he told his apostles: “Look, it is really I; listen to me; touch me in the food and drink of the Eucharist.” Thus, in our assemblies, we proclaim the risen Christ and bear witness to him. But this faith must find expression in our everyday Christian living: since Christ is risen, he must rise in us; we must become a new people in whom Christ is alive. We must bear witness to him with the whole of our lives.
Almighty God and Father, Jesus died for us on the cross and you raised him from the dead. We have not seen the marks of the nails in his hands nor touched the wound in his side, but we believe that he is alive and present here among us. Open our hearts to his Word and let us touch him in the bread of the Eucharist, that he may raise us up above our sins and change us into new people. May we thus, bear witness to your risen Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
The curiosity seekers who rush to see the cured lame man are addressed by Peter in a speech of reproach as well as forgiveness. The Jews in the audience had turned Jesus over to the authorities and were thus accomplices in his execution. But forgiveness can still be theirs. They must first recognize Christ as the healer of the crippled man and repent of their sins. Peter recognizes that they had acted out of ignorance, but with repentance forgiveness can still be theirs. In his first appearance to the apostles in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus highlights more than personal immortality. His visible form is not a vision or a phantasm; rather it involved his whole physical makeup. Jesus’ resurrection would not necessarily have had to include his body, but the Gospels are at pain to show that it did. The disciples are invited to touch his hands and feet. Jesus asks for something to eat and then consumes it in their presence. Although totally transformed in indescribable ways, this is the same Jesus who had spent his earthly ministry in their company. The risen Christ is a Spirit-filled presence, a Spirit that Christ communicates to his followers. There is no sin that cannot be remitted. What is necessary is to recognize that Jesus of Nazareth is truly Lord and Messiah and then to accept the forgiveness of sins. It is impossible for us to understand fully what a true resurrection entails. For Christ it meant a totally different form of existence. But it did include the body that had been given to him. There were Christian heresies that disdained the physical and saw the human body as ignoble. But authentic faith teaches that we share a common nature with our Messiah and Lord. Totally human, we desire to make holy that which comes from God.
Points to Ponder
Forgiveness for the death of Jesus
The corporeality of Jesus
Sanctity of the whole person.
– That in the name of the Risen Lord, the Church may raise up its members and even outsiders to a new and better life, we pray: – That the Risen Lord may give us peace and serenity of heart, that in him, we have someone to live for and to make our lives meaningful, we pray:
– That the Risen Lord may give peace to our Christian communities through the certainty, that he stays with us and breaks for us the bread of the Eucharist, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Living Father, with bread and wine, we celebrate the presence of your Son in our midst here around this table and in the life of every day. Let us experience him here as your great gift to us and let him stay with us in our never-ending quest to be your people trying to live the risen life of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Prayer after Communion
God of life and saving love, we have enjoyed the presence of your Son among us for we have been together in his name, he has spoken to us his words of life and we have shared his table. May he live on in our community by our attentive presence to one another, by our common faith expressed in deeds of love and service, of gratitude and compassion and by our efforts to create a better world where there is justice and hope for all. May we thus, journey together to you and bear witness that Christ is our Lord, now and for ever.
“Peace be with you,” says Jesus to us. It is really he who lives among us. Let us touch him in our prayers, in our closeness to him, and may Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.