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

 

 

1. Acts 3, 13-15 and 17-19

  • The entire passage for today comes from the preaching of Peter in Jerusalem. 
  • The address to the Israelites comes early in Acts, and in fact it retains a memory of some of the events surrounding Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence.  I will bring out the irony in the word ‘denied,’ coming from the mouth of Peter. 
  • He begins by appealing to their common ancestry in faith: The God of our ancestors, and then repeats the incredible message that God has glorified his servant Jesus. 
  • I hear some of the ancient titles given to Jesus and I make sure my listeners hear them: his servant, the Holy and Righteous One, the author of life, his Christ.
  • What evidence does Peter show?  First, God: God raised him from the dead.  Then the disciples: We are witnesses of this.  Finally, their own eyes and ears: This man whom you see and know in perfect health.  The ground of all this?  Faith in his name.
  • I notice the judgment upon those listening.  You handed him over, you put him to death.  But the judgment is qualified in two ways.  You acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did.  Most important, God will not be denied.  God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets.  As I read I pay more attention to the intentions of God that are never frustrated.
  • Climax: Faith made a difference then.  Faith has given him this perfect health.
  • Message for our assembly: What evidence would we present for the common faith we have?  What sign of unity can we demonstrate?  Do we show the fruits of repentance?  Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.
  • I will challenge myself: To adopt the vision of the apostle, taking this address out of the books and bringing it alive for my listeners.

 

2. I John 2, 1-5

    The apostle begins with My children, words we would accept from a person truly experienced in the Spirit. 

    He writes with attention to sin, so that you may not commit sin.  He declares that we saved from sin by our Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. 

    The passage, like the letter in general, switches without warning from constructive language like know him and keep his commandments to warnings and denials like this: Those who say, ‘I know him,’ but do not keep his commandments are liars. 

  • Know him: it sounds very much like a commentary on those Christians who were under the influence of gnosticism, who claimed a direct interior knowledge of the Lord.  Such believers apparently generated the so-called Gospel of Judas.  The apostle always asked for one proof that this knowledge was genuine.  The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments, those handed down in the churches and above all mutual love.
  • Climax: The words that were enshrined in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.  He is expiation for our sins.
  • The message for our assembly: We prove our orthodoxy, as it were, by our acts of love in the church and the world.  Do our assemblies open out to our neighbor in need?  It is a primary touchstone cited throughout this very letter.
  • I will challenge myself: To link many thoughts that don’t seem connected, by keeping in my mind as I read our Advocate Jesus Christ.

 

Gospel. Luke 24, 35-48

  • Our Emmaus members in the assembly need no reminder of the story of Mr. and Mrs. Cleopas, who recounted what had taken place on the way and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.   
  • But today I am reading the sequel to the Emmaus story.  While they were still speaking he stood in their midst. 
  • Some of the details of the reading remind me of the appearance scene in John that we heard last week.  Today we hear that they were startled and terrified, that Jesus assured them to touch me and see that it is I myself.  We don’t hear the word ‘faith’ even once, but instead the Lord opened their minds to understand the scriptures.
  • According to Luke, Jesus gives a mission to preach forgiveness of sins to all the nations.  That is nearly another way of saying ‘Make disciples’ (Matthew) or ‘Preach the Good News’ (Mark), because the Good News is a message of radical conversion. 
  • Yes, in this narrative the risen Jesus continues to instruct the disciples, with the same patience as he showed when he was among them.  But the instruction ends with a mission, because you are witnesses of these things.  Witnesses to God’s revelation are not passive courtroom witnesses who answer only when they are asked, but rather active and unrelenting.  Who among Christians would qualify today as active and unrelenting witnesses?  How do I measure up?
  • Climax: Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead.  This sentence, for many a sign of contradiction, forms the centerpiece of our faith. 
  • Message for our assembly: The disciples were incredulous for joy and amazed.  Does any of that enthusiasm rub off on us?  Do I perhaps have a role in this?
  • I will challenge myself: To show in my own voice the bursting of joy of which the evangelist speaks.

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