Easter-Peace – A Recipe For Happiness: 3rd Sunday in Easter
Sermon by Emmanuel Suntheni OSB
SERMON AND CHRISTIAN ACTS IN THE WORD
Theme: “Easter-Peace: a Recipe for Happiness and to Live a Good Life”
Point of reflection: Peace be with you! The Risen Lord is offering us peace. Why the risen Lord was only visiting or appearing to His disciples no other Jews? And why the risen Lord is always starting greetings to His disciples by saying peace be with you? The Scriptural readings of the third Sunday of Easter give us a recipe of the good life which is peace and recognising that the Lord has truly risen; the Lord is Alive, Alleluia.
First Reading: Acts 3:13–15, 17–19
Psalm: Psalm 4:2, 4, 7–9
Second Reading: 1 John 2:1–5
Gospel Luke: 24:35–48
Sermon (Reflection): The biblical readings of this third Easter Sunday clearly demonstrate how the Scripture serves as the key to unlock peace to humanity and offer God’s mysteries and to understand God’s ways. In the Gospel of today (Cf. Luke 24: 35-48), evangelist Luke first narrates the testimony of the two disciples about the events on the road to Emmaus. The two recognised a mysterious companion who joined them on the road as the Risen Jesus during the breaking of the bread. Their story was interrupted by Jesus himself appearing in the midst of the eleven with His typical Easter greeting, “Peace be with you”.
Dear friends of the risen Lord, it is very clear that the Lord after the resurrection was only appearing to His disciples no other non-disciples, perhaps, we can say that His disciples were hopeless and did not have peace as their master was crucified and buried that is why every time He had appeared to His disciples He greeted with the word “peace be with you”. We can perhaps say again that, the non-disciples were at peace as the so-called King of the Jews was crucified and buried and they had no fear.
Reflecting on the reason why Jesus Christ only appeared to His disciples, we can conquer with Rev Fr Sylvester Ben ChaswekaDP who said, “The core group (disciples) dispersed and doubted Jesus’ messianic figure due to the events surrounding the passion and death. He had to regroup them with new hope for them to continue the ministry by witnessing Christ’s triumphant resurrection.”Today as Christians, we may be hopeless and we think everything is finished looking at terrible situations we are going through. Christ message of peace is the message of hope and fact that He has truly risen and is giving us peace. The World today needs peace and hope. In many parts of the World, there is no peace and no hope.
Some of us are ambassadors of war, hatred, jealousy and evil, but as Christians, let us be ambassadors of peace and love. We need to proclaim the peace that comes from Christ not worldly money.
The evangelist Luke continues the Gospel by describing the transformation of the disciples. Their first reaction to the presence of the Risen Lord was fear, “they were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost”. Jesus Christ calms their fears by manifesting His wounds and proving that He is not a ghost by eating in front of them. All this proves that He is a real person, “flesh and bones”, a man whom they knew, who died, and who is now truly risen. The disciple’s reaction to this appearance was a mixture of joy and doubt, “in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering”.
More was required for them to accept the truth of the resurrection. To convince them, Jesus appealed to the Scripture. Using “the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms” – that is the whole Scripture – he “opened their minds” to comprehend the purpose God had in allowing His Son and Messiah to die on the cross.
Armed with such understanding, the disciples were entrusted with the mission of witnessing God’s work of salvation before the whole world. It was not the physical experience of Jesus’ presence, but the insightful understanding of the Scriptures that enabled the disciples to become true witnesses. As Christians, let us be true witnesses by understanding the Scriptures.
The last part of the third Easter Sunday Gospel is proclaiming repentance and forgiveness. Why? Because sin had engulfed the early Christians. The element of liberating the early Christians from sin is well articulated in the second reading of the third Easter Sunday (1 John 2:1–5). First, the author of the first letter of John tenderly addresses his faithful who are in darkness because of sin as “my little children”. As the “elder” of the community, he writes the words of encouragement and guidance meant to keep the believers on the right path.
His concern was to keep them away from sin. He saw sin as the power that leads to a life of darkness and deceit (1 John 1:8). The word of God expressed in the commandments prevents one from falling into sin and keeps every believer on the way towards perfection. For the author of this letter, the chief among the commandments is the commandment to love (1 John 2:7-11). Whoever lives in love obeys God’s word, and, “truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection”.
But the possibility of going astray cannot be fully eliminated as human beings are inclined to sin. Realizing that, the author states that, “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”. How does Jesus fulfil this role? According to the Gospel of John, the Holy Spirit is “another Advocate” (John 14:16-17) whom Jesus promised to send. The Spirit’s role was to remind the apostles about the words of Jesus (14:16). Thus, Jesus’ advocacy comes through his guiding words recorded in the Scriptures under the direction of the Holy Spirit. They are meant to keep the believers away from sin and judgment or guide them towards repentance and forgiveness once the sin has occurred.
The first reading from the book of Acts of Apostles (Acts 3:13–15, 17–19) contains a short excerpt from Peter’s speech to the crowd of Jewish worshipers gathered in the Temple. In his speech Peter aimed at leading those who listened to a deeper comprehension of God’s salvific plan for his people, Israel. In a paradoxical way, God carried out his plan of salvation through the horrific death of his Son on the cross. Yet, this tragic event was not accidental. In fact, it fulfilled what God had foretold through the prophets much earlier, namely, that God’s Messiah would suffer.
Actually, Peter delivered this speech right after he healed a lame beggar who sat at the Temple’s entrance begging for money. Instead of money, Peter gave him back his health, “in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene” (Acts 3:6). This healing greatly puzzled the crowds, and their amazement provided Peter with a perfect occasion for an evangelising speech.
As Christians, we need to heal the World with Easter peace. Today, our World is filled with hatred, war, killing of an innocent soul, and what we need is healing in Jesus Christ name. May we be healed in our hearts and heal the World. As Christians, we must be peaceful in heart and action.
Christian Acts in the Word of God “Let us be peaceful in heart & action”
We often go through certain experiences of life that make us wonder whether God is really in charge of the universe. Just cast your eyes around and you would not lack examples: A mother loses her only child in an accident; a young boy prays for success in an exam and yet fails miserably. A young lady puts her trust in God, hoping to secure a job but she is woefully disappointed at the interview. Some have entered into relationships and marriages hoping for the best but were left by the roadside with broken hearts.
In such moments, the silent cry of the heart is: Where is our God? Why this pain? Does God care? The world is unable to give appropriate answers to such questions. God alone is the best respondent to questions addressed to Him, and His answers can be found in Sacred Scriptures. In the Word of God, we discover God’s plan even in our brokenness.
The Gospel of today gives us three elements for our Christian Act in the Word of God. First, the Gospel is inviting us to be peaceful as Christ is giving peace to His disciples who were hopeless and living in fear as their master was crucified and buried. Today as Christians, we are also living in fear and hopelessness, Christ is alive, He has truly risen, we need to get strength from the Lord through prayer and recognising Him as the risen Lord.
Second, the Gospel is inviting us to understand the Scriptures as by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, all the scriptures have been fulfilled. A call to us Christians is to understand the Scriptures as every hidden treasure of our life is in the Scriptures that is understanding the Word of God and live by it. St. Jerome famously stated that “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”. A good grasp of the Word of God leads one to appreciate the salvific character of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The passion of Christ did not end salvation history but opened a new chapter. Hence, in the second reading, Jesus Christ is referred to as “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the world.” Of course, Peter preached to the crowd saying: “Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out”.
Third and last Christian act in the Gospel of today is the act of repentance and asking for forgiveness. If we want to have peace with ourselves and the World, then, we need to repent and ask for forgiveness, our God is so merciful and He will forgive us our sins.
Action: From today onwards, I (we) want to be a peaceful person (people). The risen Lord has given me (us) peace and love: let me (us) bring peace and love to the World.
Prayer: Eternal Father, You have given us Easter-peace and your ways are perfect and nothing happens outside your divine will. By the light of the Holy Spirit teach us to be peaceful persons and bring Easter-Peace to the World. Deepen our faith in your Son Jesus Christ, especially during dark moments and help us to hope for a day of resurrection whenever we find ourselves in any tomblike situation, we ask this through the Risen Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, Amen.
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