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Easter 3 (A)
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Readings for the Third Sunday of Easter, Cycle A

1. Acts 2, 14 and 22-33
  • Peter addresses the Jews gathered in Jerusalem: Men of Israel.  It is an early Good News declaration to the people gathered in the holy city for the feast of Pentecost.
  • Over and over I hear that Jesus is God’s own man.  God worked through him.  God planned this.  God raised him up.
  • I also hear that Peter is reminding his listeners of something in which they themselves were involved.  You yourselves know.  You killed him.  You see and hear the pouring forth of the Spirit.
  • The people of Jerusalem needed to appreciate the impossible: that God would raise someone from the dead.  Peter appealed to their understanding, and our assembly can benefit from his words today.  It was impossible for him to be held by death.   We have heard about resurrection all our lives, because it is the center of our faith, but I want to find a way for everyone to listen carefully now. 
  • Central point: Peter repeats the words God raised this Jesus.  We saw what he did and said, but God gave the final judgment.
  • Message for our assembly: The God who raised Jesus is the same God whom we adore today.  And will God not act in our midst if we pray with great faith?
  • I will challenge myself: to call attention to Jesus present among us, the same Jesus of whom Peter spoke on the first Pentecost.  How well do I recognize him today?

 

2. I Peter 1, 17-21

  • Every time I read a passage with such complex grammar, I ask myself how I can make it memorable for those who hear it.  So let me begin with myself: How will it be memorable to me?
  • There are two very long sentences.  Let me break them into logical pieces.
  • We begin with the Father God: you invoke him.  And we live in the presence of God, with reverence.  We are not alone!  Our lives are full of meaning!
  • How did we get to this level?  Jesus takes us to God.  Through him you believe in God.  Your faith and hope are in God. 
  • Here is another reminder to the church that Jesus is here with us, revealed in the final time for you.  When I read this in any text I will make it stand out.
  • Climax: The precious blood of Christ makes everything else in our world noble, valuable, worth struggling for.  That alone raises our lives to a new level.
  • The message for our assembly: Revealed in the final time for you means us as well as the first listeners to this letter.  It brings us into the mystery.
  • I will challenge myself: To bear witness to Christ among us.

 

Gospel.  Luke 24, 13-35

  • Our Emmaus members in the assembly need no reminder of the story of Mr. and Mrs. Cleopas.  Or the two may be Cleopas and myself!  But whether or not my other listeners know the story that well, I owe it to everyone to retell it today so that it warms our faith and makes our hearts burn within us.
  • First, I present the Cleopas point of view.  They are walking, they are discussing heatedly, and they have all the facts.  Don’t you know what has happened?  Like many of us, there’s no way for anyone to break in and present an alternative.  Jesus the Nazarene looked promising, and we were hoping that he would be the one.  In all this, my stranger enters and listens quietly, asking leading questions.
  • When I piece apart the words of the travelers, I hear alternation between facts spoken in a plain way (Some of our women went to the tomb) and a stream of desperate comments (Him they did not see).  I will bring out the contrast, suggesting that a couple indeed is speaking.
  • Second, I present Jesus and his (the stranger’s) point of view.  Beginning with Moses: I make clear that he is giving a complete scripture lesson to them.  Now it is his turn to present all the arguments: Was it not necessary?  As he links the scriptures with his own divine destiny, I make him sound even more confident than Cleopas was about the finality of the crucifixion.  And I remember that the hearts began to burn about now.  I am not just repeating what Jesus told them but, even more, I am repeating how they heard Jesus telling it and how their awareness began to open.
  • Third, the travelers form a community.  Stay with us.  From hospitality I turn to the meal where the house guest becomes the host.  Not Cleopas but Jesus took the bread and said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them. 
  • Finally, they leave their home and return right away to Jerusalem, to the eleven disciples gathered with the others.  I can feel the excitement rise in the room as each disciple tells the Good News of Jesus’ resurrection to each other.  Thank God, I don’t need much rehearsal to bring out the same excitement in my own voice.  In fact, wouldn’t it be better for me to restrain myself, so that the assembly itself feels the stirring of faith within it?
  • Everyone, the stranger Jesus, Mr. and Mrs. Cleopas, the eleven, are telling each other the Good News in this passage.  And our members today will tell it to each other mutually.  Together we will burst out in Easter joy.
  • Climax: In the breaking of the bread they knew him.
  • Message for our assembly: In the retelling of the story we know him.
  • I will challenge myself: To tell the story so that even our Emmaus members learn something new today.

Word to Communion: Do we recognize the Lord in the breaking of the bread?  Does that excite us, too?  If so, how will we show it?

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