Homily for Sunday, 22 April 2012
Third Sunday of Easter: Acts 3:13-15, 17-19. 1 Jn 2:1-5. Lk 24:35-48.
The gospel this Sunday continues to tell of the appearance of the risen Jesus.
I like the way that he doesn't dig in to some deep theological teaching, but rather asks the gang: "Have you anything to eat?"!! That may seem unimportant, but it makes me think of the fact that God became completely human - like us all. Even the resurrected Christ was keen to nibble a bit! That speaks of how the resurrection isn't just for divine beings, it's for us too. It speaks to us of how the door has been opened for this bunch of flesh and bones to reach beyond death.
And this didn't come 'out of the blue'. It's the climax of a history that goes back a long, long way. It says 'Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures' (Lk 24:45). And the first reading, from Acts, has Peter describing to the Jews how the life of Jesus Christ had all been predicted, going back to their ancient patriarchs. I must say, I give thanks for the way that scriptures were explained to me, but of course I've still got a lot to learn. We all have. But will we let Christ explain them to us and stimulate thoughts in us as we pray?
Jesus adds 'that the forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all the nations'. The three readings this week are actually about the mercy of God. It's described with reference to the people who handed Jesus over to crucifixion (and that certainly requires tremendous mercy), but we're all part of that. We've all sinned at some stage, and our joy isn't to point to the good works done by our Christian community, but to the fact that God forgives us despite our many bad works... and our frequent failure to do good ones. I've done wrong... and you've done wrong, but the great thing is that God forgives. Phew! It seems that the name 'Divine Mercy Sunday' applies to this Sunday as much as to last week (and to every week!).
How could we possibly repay God? By beginning anew. God gives us a tremendous chance: the chance to forgive anyone who may have done us any harm or failed to do good. We're all in the same boat. Only one of us hasn't ever done wrong – just one: Mary. But she's our mother – and the fantastic Good News ('gospel') is that the kids do have the potential to become like their Mum!
There's a missionary call here too. Jesus asks that repentance for the forgiveness of sins be preached in his name to all the nations.' (Lk 24:47). That's a call to us all who can speak (or press a keyboard)! And Jesus tells us that it will be a good trip. Maybe there will be some wind and waves (and even sclerosis) along the way, but the followers of Peter and his fishermen (the Church) will end up with a decent catch!
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