Third Sunday of Easter Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; Ps. 4:2,4,7-8,9 1John 2:1-5a; Luke 24:35-48
Today’s gospel provides a glimpse of the conflicting emotions felt by the disciples on Easter Sunday evening. Confused and fearful, unsure whether to believe the testimony of Peter, John, Mary Magdalene and the two who had just returned from Emmaus, the disciples were startled by Jesus’ sudden appearance among them.
To assure them that they had been forgiven for abandoning Him, Jesus bestowed His peace upon them. Then, to allay their fears of a ghostly apparition, He invited them to touch Him and asked for something to eat, a very human request.
For three years, Jesus had lived among these disciples, sharing life with them, teaching them, and preparing them for this moment. Yet it was not until He reminded them of all He had taught them and explained how the scripture had been fulfilled through His death and resurrection that their minds were opened and they were able to understand.
Now they were being asked to continue Jesus’ mission by preaching repentance and forgiveness. That was an awesome responsibility. But they accepted as the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles testifies. Peter, who had earlier denied even knowing Jesus, now boldly proclaimed the Resurrection, and called on the people of Jerusalem to repent of the part they had played in His death so they might be forgiven. Such was the transforming power of Christ’s forgiveness of Peter!
Like the disciples, we are also asked to invite others to repentance and forgiveness. That is a challenge. There are so many things that call for repentance here in our own country and throughout the world: lack of respect for human life on all levels, corporate greed, gun violence, racism, consumerism, exploitation of the undocumented, abuse of women and children, violence against earth’s resources, ethnic cleansing, war, and human trafficking to name just a few. In reflecting on how we might call for repentance and effect change, we can find ourselves as confused and frightened as the disciples. It is at these times that we need to recall the questions Jesus asked in today’s gospel, “Why are you troubled and why do questions arise in your hearts?” Jesus promised to be with the disciples and He will be with us as well. His invitation to repentance needs to be heard in our world today more than ever before and we are the ones who must extend it.
In this Easter season, will we allow the power of the resurrection to inspire and fill us, so that through our prayer, action and advocacy, those who neglect their responsibility to act justly on behalf of others may be inspired to repent and be forgiven?
If we can, then Christ’s mission will continue to be fulfilled through us. Sister Michaela Connolly, O.P.