Commentary on 3rd Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

1st Reading: Acts of the Apostles 3: 13-19

Jesus is called the “author of life” – what does that mean for you?  Mary Birmingham points out that this term is a very ancient Christian term.  The Greek word for ‘author’ means “captain” or “leader.”  Jesus is the new leader, the new captain of life’s vessel, who leads the people, just like Moses, out of bondage into a new promised land – Jesus is the fulfillment of the liberation foreshadowed at the Exodus event – Jesus is the fulfillment of all that God has ever planned for humankind. (W&W Wrkbk Yr B, 363-364)

St. John of the Cross said, “The soul lives where it loves.”  Think about that.  Jesus lived here among us because of love.  And that is why he died too.  Peter seems to be pointing out the guilt that the people have in handing over Jesus to death, but the emphasis is on repentance and God’s salvific message.  Jesus reaches out in love; Jesus wants us to repent and turn to him.  He doesn’t want us wallowing in our guilt and self-loathing.  He wants us to embrace the love.  Let our souls live in that love.  How can we be different living that way?

2nd Reading: 1 John 2: 1-5

What does it mean to you to call Jesus an “Advocate” – a parakletos ?  An advocate is someone who pleads our case before a court of law – one who intercedes for us. It is someone whom we call to be by our side as our helper and counselor. It is someone who “lends his presence to his friends.” Jesus is this kind of friend. (Wm Barclay, The Letters of John and Jude, 36-38)

Jesus is also called our ‘expiation’ for sin – here we must be careful of the meaning. In the Jewish sense, sacrifice was used to restore our relationship with God. It was God forgiving us and providing the means of restoring our relationship with God.  Scholars also point out that the word could be translated as ‘disinfection’: Jesus shows us what God is like and disinfects us from the taint of sin – from the darkness and bondage of sin.  Jesus is the reconciliation, the means, by which God reassures us of His love. And as this writer, John, sees it – this work of Jesus is carried out not just for us, but for the whole world.   The love of God is broader than the measures of our human mind. God’s salvation has wide enough arms for all. (Wm Barclay, The Letters of John and Jude, 39-40)

“perfected”:  “made complete” NIV, “show how completely they love him” NLT, “love of God been perfected” ASV, “and then we know we belong to him” CEV…

The Gospel: Luke 24: 35-48

The gospels struggle with expressing the risen reality.  It was not just another phase in the history of Jesus of Nazareth.  In a real sense he was totally “other”, living now the indescribable life of God.  And yet he was the same person and in some ways objectively identifiable.  However, the resurrection was known principally by its fruits, the faith proclamation of unlettered fishermen.  It changed people’s lives and continues to do so.  To watch people move from a state of alienation to conversion and a new direction in life is the clearest proof of the risen Christ  (Faley, R.  Footprints on the Mountain, p, 309). 

From Ron Rolheiser’s “In Praise of Skin (Blog 6/4/2000):  In becoming flesh, God legitimizes skin, praises skin, enters it, honors it, caresses it, and kisses it.  Among all the religions of the world, we stand out because, for us, salvation is never a question of stepping outside of skin, but of having skin itself glorified.  That is why Jesus never preached simple immortality of the soul, but insisted on the resurrection of the body.  For Christians, the body is not something from which one is ever meant to escape; rather, the body is to be understood as a temple of the holy spirit, a church, a sacred place where God can come and make a home. 

Wm. Barclay says this passage really emphasizes the Christian message:

  1. The reality of the resurrection:  The risen Christ is real, not a ghost or hallucination.
  2. The cross was necessary:  The cross was not forced on God; it was not an emergency measure when all else failed and when the scheme of things had gone wrong.  The cross is the one place on earth, where in a moment of time, we see the eternal love of God.
  3. The task is urgent:  We aren’t meant to stay huddled in the Upper Room but to be sent forth, (The Gospel of Luke, p. 311-312).

The word ‘troubled’ is from the verb tarasso; the other time this is used in Luke’s Gospel is when the angel announces the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah.  M. Birmingham thinks there is a connection, for Zechariah also struggled with doubt and disbelief.  Jesus’ response to their fear is to ground them in knowing his bodily presence is real flesh.  He solidified it by eating something.  Making peace with this reality is necessary for them to do the work ahead of them as disciples, that work being to spread this message:  that Jesus’ life, mission, death and resurrection were part of God’s plan of salvation for the world, (W&W, p. 369).

Forgiveness is such a key part of being transformed by Jesus.  It’s like the shedding of all that keeps us from God in order to be free to do the good work.  Have you found forgiveness to be freeing?  Why do you think forgiveness has this effect on us, and why is it so important to Jesus?

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