April 15, 2018
3rd Sunday of Easter
Sun 8, 10 & 4:30
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2:1-5a; Luke 24:35-48
God’s Not Dead! I say it again…God’s Not Dead! You may or may not know but this is the name of some Christian movies that have come out over the last couple of years (the 3rd & latest this past Good Friday). Isn’t that what we are to proclaim as Catholic Christians all year long but especially during the Easter Season? That Jesus has risen and is alive?!! Yes it is! It’s not just a nice story or a myth. It’s a reality! And we are to proclaim it every day of our lives!
The Resurrection of Christ is to be proclaimed because it is the single most important event in the history of the world and in the history of salvation. St. Paul says (1 Cor 15) that if Jesus did not rise from the dead then our faith is null and void and we are the “most pitiable people of all.”…Bishop Robert Barron (Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles) recently said that “If Jesus did not rise from the dead than all bishops and priests need to go out and get different job and all of us in the Church should leave immediately.” But the fact is Jesus has risen, He has conquered sin and death, and our faith is not null and void but because of the Resurrection our faith is fulfilled, powerful, life-giving and gives us hope!
In the first reading from Acts of the Apostles St. Peter proclaims it. This passage immediately follows the passage where a crippled man is healed through the power of the Risen Christ. The man shouts for joy and makes such a commotion that he draws a crowd. It is to this crowd that St. Peter proclaims that this Jesus, who they put to death, has risen. And that He has fulfilled the Scriptures and the prophets.
In the second reading from the 1st Letter of St. John we heard, “Jesus Christ is expiation for our sins.” In other words He took our sins on the Cross for us and conquered sin and death. So all who turn to the Risen Christ now have a way into eternal life when before there was no way. That’s what we are to proclaim! That’s the Good News!
The Gospel passage this Sunday immediately follows the story of the two on the road to Emmaus who were dejected because the one whom they placed their hope in was dead, hung on the Cross. The risen Jesus revealed Himself to these two disciples and the passage today picks up where they have come back to the others to proclaim that Jesus is alive…The disciples are behind locked doors terrified, troubled and afraid with doubt in their hearts but Jesus says to them, “Peace be with you.” Then He shows them His hands and His side. In other words Jesus is proving to them that yes He truly is alive…So the question is, do each of us truly believe that Jesus, the Son of God, died and rose again and is alive today? Because if we do then we would have His peace and the hope that He offers. We wouldn’t have questions arise in our hearts and be troubled about all our concerns, our stresses and our problems. If we truly believed that He is alive we would trust in Him for all things and in all situations. He offers peace to us, even in difficult times, by inviting us to come close to Him and to touch Him. When we draw close to the Risen Jesus it is then that we receive His peace that surpasses all human understanding.
In the Gospel, at first the disciples thought He was a ghost. But Jesus says, “Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones.” Just as Jesus appeared to the disciples in flesh and bone He appears to us today in flesh and bone. How? He appears to us in flesh and bone in our family members, in our friends, in the poor and less fortunate, and in the immigrant and in the refugee. Jesus appears in every person that we encounter whether in person face-to-face or from a distance. And He says the same to us today as He did in today’s Gospel, “Have you anything here to eat?” The Risen Lord is in the other person asking us to feed Him. How do we feed Him? By responding with love and compassion through the sharing of our time, our talent and our treasure. We feed Him by including the one who is left out or who seems to be an outcast. We feed Him by looking for and ministering to Christ in the needs of the other. What we do and what we share we are doing it to the Risen Christ who appears to us in flesh and bone in the other. Every time we reach out and touch someone with compassion we are touching the Risen Lord…And in turn, when we respond to His plea coming through the other we are appearing to them as the Risen Christ in flesh and bone. Jesus is alive in the other and in us!
In the Mass there are several powerful signs of the Risen Christ. Of course in the Eucharist and in the Word. But also, the Risen Christ is in the Sign of Peace. Jesus is the “Prince of Peace”. So when the deacon or priest announces “Let us offer each other a sign of peace” we turn to each other and shake hands or we hug or we wave or we flash a peace sign right? But what we are really doing? Because the Risen Christ is alive in us, we are giving Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to each other. Everything we do in mass we do for a reason, it has meaning and is important. When we offer peace to each other we are offering and receiving Christ Himself…But why do we do this? What is the fruit or the good that comes from it? First of all it builds community and makes us one, which prepares us to receive Holy Communion (one Bread, one Body). So while it is good to offer peace to your family and friends near you, also offer peace to the ones you do not know. Get out of your seat and look for someone you don’t know and give them a hand shake or hug from Jesus (keep it Christian though, LOL). What else does the Sign of Peace do? It brings about reconciliation also preparing us to receive Holy Communion…Jesus is alive in us. Share Him.
My brothers and sisters, God’s Not Dead, He is alive! It’s not just a story or a fable. It’s reality! It is the most important event in history! It is up to us to spread the Good News that Jesus has conquered sin and death by His Resurrection and that now there is a way into heaven, now there is hope. And it is our mission to proclaim it in this dark world. …In the latest God’s Not Dead movie “A Light in Darkness” one of the lines is, “It only takes a spark.” And they light their individual candles from each other. This is what we do at every Easter Vigil at every Catholic Church in the world. While the Church is still dark on that “Night of nights” one small candle is lit from the Paschal Candle which represents Christ. Then that little candle lights another and they pass the light around until the whole church is filled with the light of the Risen One. What a beautiful sight! As Catholics who have come close and touched the Risen Jesus, who have received His peace, it is us who have this spark inside of us and it is us who are called too proclaim it and spread it by the way we live our lives. And the Father looks down and sees the light spreading. What a beautiful sight!
The Lord is risen! Believe it, live it, spread the Good News! It only takes a spark…May the peace of the Risen Christ be with you!