3rd Sunday of Easter – Year B.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“Passed from Death to a New Life.”
All three readings today show us the characteristics of this new life. We must be born again and again because conversion to the Lord is an on-going process. We now believe that through Christ’s death we have conversion, forgiveness of sins and new life.
The first and second readings show us what this new life is like.
The Gospel describes how the apostles and disciples came to believe that Christ had truly ‘Risen’ and entered into God’s glory. Their journey of faith is the journey we must also travel, and death does not scare us anymore.
We renewed our baptismal promises at Easter but the roots of sin remain in us, ready to lead us astray again.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Ignorance of the Scriptures is ‘Ignorance of Christ’.”
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19ab.
To appreciate Peter’s speech, consider the background. Peter and John had been on their way into the Temple for daily prayer. A man crippled from birth is sitting in his usual spot and asks Peter for spare change. Peter admits that he is broke but will give him what he has: something in the name of Jesus Christ. After curing the lame man who was begging near the Beautiful Gate of the Temple (Acts 3:1-10), Peter made a speech taking the opportunity to disown all personal authority in the healing. Instead, he preaches about Jesus, the Servant of God, the Holy and Just One, the Author of Life. Peter explains that what has happened is the work of Christ and is an evident sign that Jesus is alive. The text of today begins just after this explanation.
How could the healing of a lame man prove that Christ was ‘Risen’? Was it because only a disciple of Christ can work this kind of miracle? Not likely. Jesus was always concerned with what was for the good of his fellowmen and women. He taught a way of life based on love and compassion, cured the sick, gave food to the hungry and sought out the lost.
Now, if such things are still being done in his Church and with the same force and power, this means that Jesus is still alive, and continues to act through us and that his Spirit is still present in the world. This is why Peter in his speech keeps repeating: “We are witnesses”. The apostles are witnesses to the Resurrection; because the works they do prove unequivocally that Jesus is alive. Can we be witnesses today? Certainly, if we keep doing the works of charity and love that Jesus did in our communities.
In today’s reading Peter unhesitatingly confronts the leaders of the Jewish people with the crime of putting Jesus to death even though he was innocent. “But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of Life, whom God raised from the dead.” Peter then softens his accusation. He says, “And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers…. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.
Peter and John are taken into custody by the temple guard for this speech, and so is the beggar. It is wonderful to see the change in Peter, no longer afraid to own Jesus but willing to proclaim his name at any cost. Some thirty years later, Peter will be crucified for speaking that name.
Like the members of the crowd gathered in Solomon’s Portico after the cure of the lame beggar, we, too, are called to acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. We have had the preaching and the testimony of the apostles and their successors for more than two thousand years now. We cannot claim ignorance. We cannot plead that we were unaware of God’s plan for salvation, about the teachings and the ministry of Jesus and about his Death and Resurrection.
We have had plenty of opportunity to know about Jesus and to respond to his overtures to us. We are all called to ongoing repentance and conversion so that our deficiencies in recognizing and responding to the salvation offered by the Lord Jesus can be healed and forgiven.
But we are not just called to repent and receive and to respond. We are called to proclaim the truth and the reality and the presence of the Lord Jesus. We are called, all of us to proclaim the Lord as the apostles did. By the vocation we have received in baptism and confirmation, we are called to proclaim the salvation that our Lord Jesus has won for the world. This means giving witness to the presence and action of Jesus in our lives. It means extending ourselves to be recognized as a follower of Jesus in a society in which public profession of religious belief is looked upon as bad form and not politically correct.
Today’s Psalm is a traditional evening prayer. In it, a temple priest, delivered from distress, gives thanks. It is easily applied to Christ whom God released from anguish, so that he could find joy in God the Father alone. Christians, who know that salvation is only found in Jesus, can make this prayer their own.
1 John 2:1-5a.
The Good News we find at the start of the second reading is that though we must admit our sinfulness, we nourish our hope with the knowledge that Jesus Christ, the upright, is with us. He is the expiation for our sins.
Salvation is not reserved for the small group of Christians, but is for the whole world. It is not enough for Christians to observe certain rules and rites and to proclaim by word the truths of our faith to be at peace with God. John tells us that our faith in God has to be manifested through the way we live our lives.
If our Christian Community is not giving an authentic life-witness according to the Gospel, aren’t we, perhaps, the liars mentioned in the reading of today?
In the Gospel of Luke the Easter Story tells us how the women discover the empty tomb and receive a message from two angels. However, the apostles refused to believe their story. Two other disciples also experience Jesus on the way to Emmaus as they listen to him explaining the Scriptures and finally recognize him in the breaking of the bread. As they return to share their experience with the other apostles, Jesus appears to all of them. He assures them that he has really ‘Risen’ and he gives them a new understanding of the Scriptures.
It is with this new understanding that they are sent out to be his witnesses, starting from Jerusalem. In this new understanding the disciples become witnesses, not just witnesses to what has happened, but also witnesses to the meaning of all that has taken place.
Luke shows us how the understanding of the early Church is based on the teachings of the Risen Christ. That is its unique authority. The understanding of the Church today is based on the same unique experience and teachings of the first disciples. We will always be indebted to them for their insight and courage. Happily, they did not keep their new experience to themselves, they did not hoard their new insight: ‘but shared with anyone who has ears to listen’.
The first disciples turned their new experience into a message of ‘Good News’ for all people. If we really want to understand who Jesus is, we have to know the whole story of salvation. The ‘scriptures of our lives’ opens up to us in the same way. Things happen through the years, seemingly random and unconnected. The only common point of reference is that they happen to us. And then one day we look back and see God’s fingerprints all over our story, clear and undeniable. A moment of grace is given to us and we see and appreciate what God was saying to us all along.
The last part of the Gospel contains the great announcement found in all three readings of today: “Conversion and Forgiveness of sins will be announced to all peoples in the name of Christ.”
Every generation must make the message of Jesus its own and pass it on to others. It is a message enlivened by the witness of many generations of Christians who have continued to have life in the name of Jesus. We keep the message alive only by giving it away to others. That way the Gospel never dies.
All three reading today stress repentance. We must be born again and again and again because conversion to the Lord is an on-going process. We renewed baptismal vows at Easter but the roots of sin remain in us, ready to lead us astray again. The Letter of John reminds us: ‘if anyone should sin we have our advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who is just; he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away.’ Regular confession is a grace-filled means of maintaining union with the Lord.
Today’s readings encourage Christians to have no doubts that our sins will be forgiven. Through sinning we have offended God, and we have hurt our neighbour and ourselves, but through God’s gift of love we are totally forgiven and wonderfully healed. This is the ‘Good News’! And we are its witnesses. Let us joyfully spread the ‘Good News’ to all who will listen.
In him, who rose from the dead, our hope of resurrection dawned. The sadness of death gives way to the bright promise of eternal life. Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B, we reflect on …
Sun. … Our acts of love and works of charity make us true witnesses to the ‘Risen Christ’ and prove to those who have doubts that Jesus is alive in this world. How convincing are we?
Mon. … Are we prepared to be witnesses to Christ in a society in which public profession of faith and religious beliefs is generally frowned upon as being contrary to ‘freedom of choice and so called human rights’? Is our faith strong enough to withstand ridicule and criticism?
Tues. … Are we willing to confront and make the ‘Truth’ heard to a society who has justice for ‘some’ but not for defenseless babies who are ‘legally’ aborted in ‘approved’ medical facilities? Unbelievably this is the very same society who has banned the death penalty. Jesus does not want followers who cry out to him ‘Lord, Lord’! And then ignore injustice and bloodshed. May all who believe in Christ stand up together against the slaughter of defenceless babies. If we are not giving authentic life-witness according to the Gospel, are we not like the ‘liars’ mentioned in John’s ‘1st. Letter’ today?
Wed. … Peter, after confronting the Jewish leaders with the crime of putting the innocent Jesus to death, proclaims God’s mercy to all who truly repent and turn to God. Do we as Christians proclaim the same message of God’s mercy to those who lose their way in our society today? The invitation to proclaim the Word of God, or to be witness, often stirs up negative feelings of being inadequate, embarrassed or shy, or having to give up time, etc. Positive energy comes from recognising it as an honour to be invited and being assured of ‘His’ help.
Thurs. … Like the two disciples who met Jesus on the way to Emmaus, do we share our experiences we have had with the Risen Lord with others, so that they too may come to believe?
Frid. … The teachings of the Church today are based on the same truths and the unique experiences of the first disciples and evangelists. The Gospel and the Holy Scriptures are for all people who want to know Jesus and God’s message of salvation. In this modern world and its marvels in various forms of communication we have had plenty of opportunity to know about Jesus and to respond to his many overtures to us. The scripture of our own lives opens up to us in a similar way. Things happen throughout the years of our lives, seemingly unconnected; and one day we look back and see God’s fingerprints all over our story, clear and undeniable. By our own experiences we can then also witness the truth.
Sat. … Let us keep alive the ‘message’ of God’s love; his calling of his children back home to repentance and forgiveness. Love is the ‘witness’ that will keep the Gospel alive.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, grant us the gift of faith to become true witnesses to the ‘Risen’ Christ in whose name love and charity to others is expected and repentance for the forgiveness of sin is preached to all the world.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group. Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.