Third Sunday of Easter

Published Apr 15, 2018

The Bible is a large, complicated volume, made up of 72 books written over almost a thousand years. Most copies are more than one thousand pages long, and the new testament is usually about one third of the book.

It’s important, essential that we know the scriptures, read the scriptures, and take them to heart. And that is why we read them week after week here, and are all encouraged to read them on our own time too. These sacred texts—old testament and new testament—are the sacramental vessel of the word of God. So before I say anything else, hear this:  read the scriptures. Love the scriptures. Take them to heart.

That having been said, I’m going to let you in on a secret. In today’s first reading, the whole of the New Testament, and even, as a bonus, the essential definition of the Church, all you really need to know about our salvation, and why we are here on this third Sunday of Easter in the year of our Lord 2018, is contained in one line, Acts 3:15. Peter gives us everything we need to know in one sentence:

“The Author of life you put to death,

But God raised him from the dead;

Of this we are witnesses.”

Eight times in the Acts of the Apostles, the hectic and contradictory and exhilarating telling of the first moments of the life of the church attributed to St. Luke, we hear this essential teaching, always in this triple form, though in slightly different words: This Jesus whom you crucified, God has raised him up, and we are his witnesses.

This Jesus whom you crucified,

God has raised him up,

and we are his witnesses.

Stark truth:  You put to death the Author of life, this Jesus whom you crucified. Not the Jews, not the Romans, but you, me, we, us. His truth, his challenge, his goodness, his invitation were all too much for us. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God of Time and Eternity, gave him to us, his only son, and we crucified him. Hard truth

Glorious truth:  God has glorified him, raised him up from the darkness of death. Jesus appears to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, appears to his disciples locked away in hiding, eats and drinks with them, shows them his wounds. He unravels the knotted mystery of the scriptures for them, and shares his spirit with them, gives them the charge to be his disciples, his witnesses. Wonderful truth.

Impossible truth: The disciples become witnesses, to the ends of the earth, to their time and to our time and to the end of time. Broken, cowardly, doubting, uncertain men and women proclaim what they have seen and heard. They testify to the power of God over sin that they saw revealed in Jesus. They testify to the power of God to raise his murdered son back to life. They testify to the mercy of God who forgives his son’s murderers, who gives them back—gives us back—the Lord of the living and the dead. Transformative truth.

The miracle of the Resurrection is beyond our imagining, but the miracle of their witness is perhaps even more miraculous, more mysterious. Broken, cowardly, doubting, uncertain men and women become powerful witnesses to an impossible truth they experience as the ultimate reality: the resurrection of Christ our lord and brother.

“The Author of life you put to death, this Jesus whom you crucified, God raised him from the dead; And we are his witnesses.” The transformation of those pathetic, unfaithful and fearful disciples into powerful witnesses is a miracle as powerful as the raising up of Jesus from the dead.

We were not there, on the road to Emmaus; we were not there in the locked upper room; we did not put our fingers into the nail prints in his hands or the wound in his side. Yet we believe because of the grace-filled, spirit-filled witness of those pathetic, unfaithful, fearful disciples who were themselves transformed by what they experienced. “The Author of life you put to death, this Jesus whom you crucified, God raised him from the dead.” We rest on the firm ground of their witness, on the assurance of their faith, and on the faith of all the witnesses from their time until today. We believe and hope and love because they believed and hoped and loved, because faith and hope and love are the truest testimony.

“The Author of life you put to death,

But God raised him from the dead;

Of this we are witnesses.”

 

And so we too become witnesses of these things, and share them anew.

 

Fr. Tom Lucas, S.J.

Read more

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr
published 10/17/2018

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
published 9/16/2018

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
published 7/29/2018

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
published 7/2/2018

Nativity of St. John the Baptist
published 6/24/2018

Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time
published 6/17/2018

Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
published 6/10/2018

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
published 6/3/2018

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
published 5/27/2018

Pentecost
published 5/20/2018

The Ascension of the Lord
published 5/13/2018

Sixth Sunday of Easter
published 5/6/2018

Fifth Sunday of Easter
published 4/30/2018

Fourth Sunday of Easter
published 4/22/2018

» Third Sunday of Easter
published 4/15/2018

Second Sunday of Easter
published 4/8/2018

Easter Sunday of the Lord's Resurrection
published 4/5/2018

Solemn Easter Vigil in the Holy Night
published 4/5/2018

Good Friday of the Lord's Passion
published 3/30/2018

Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper
published 3/29/2018

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
published 3/26/2018

Fifth Sunday of Lent
published 3/18/2018

Fourth Sunday of Lent
published 3/11/2018

Third Sunday of Lent
published 3/4/2018

Second Sunday of Lent
published 2/25/2018

First Sunday of Lent
published 2/18/2018

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
published 2/11/2018

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
published 2/4/2018

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
published 1/28/2018

Third Sunday of Ordinary Time
published 1/21/2018

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
published 1/14/2018

The Epiphany of the Lord
published 1/7/2018

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
published 1/1/2018


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