May 2, 2014

Third Sunday of Easter / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionAgain, as is usual for weekends of the Easter season, the Acts of the Apostles provides the first reading for the Liturgy of the Word.

This reading recalls an event similar to several others in Acts. Peter preaches, in the name of the Apostles. His remarks, or at least those recorded in this passage, are brief and crisp. The term used by biblical scholars is that the selection is kerygmatic, drawing from kerygma, the Greek word for “message.”

The message given by Peter contains the basic information about Jesus and about God’s plan of salvation.

A few points are most important. One is that, despite the small number of Christians at the time, and in spite of the facts that the Jewish culture and the effects of Roman domination were overwhelming, the Apostles still felt the responsibility to speak aloud about Jesus.

Their interest in this regard hardly was the expression of a wish to control other people. Rather, put into the context of last weekend’s first reading that described both the early Christian community’s love for the Lord and its outreach to the troubled and needy, this reading reveals that these first followers of Christ saw informing others about the Redeemer as a loving service.

Secondly, here, as elsewhere in Acts, even though the other Apostles were present, Peter, and Peter alone, spoke on their behalf.

The First Epistle of St. Peter supplies the next reading. Scholars debate the authorship of this epistle. Was Peter the author? Or was someone writing in Peter’s name the author? Unlike today, when signing another person’s name would be regarded as deceptive and highly inappropriate, the custom long ago was that this was the greatest compliment.

In any case, the reading shows how totally committed to Jesus the Savior the early Christians were, and how aware they were that salvation had come through the Lord’s death and Resurrection.

The last reading, from St. Luke’s Gospel, is the powerful and lovely story of the risen Lord’s walk to Emmaus with two disciples. Certainly a major point in this reading is its reference to a holy meal when the journey was completed. The connection with the Eucharist is too strong to overlook.

The Emmaus narrative appears only in Luke. It still is one of the most renowned, and beloved, pieces in the New Testament.

Important in its message is the fact that, regardless of their devotion to Jesus, the disciples still do not understand everything. They need Jesus, even in their sincerity and their faith. Without Jesus, they are unsure, puzzled. Secondly, Jesus meets this need—totally. He teaches them. Thirdly, Jesus is with them. Finally, as they celebrate the meal, with its eucharistic overtones, Jesus is the central figure presiding as they “break the bread.”

Reflection

Beginning with the Scriptural readings for Easter itself, the Church has taken, and is taking, pains to express to us forcefully and clearly its unflinching belief that after his crucifixion and death the Lord Jesus rose to new life.

With equal vigor, and equally strong faith, it insists to us that Jesus did not rise and disappear. Instead, the Lord was with the Apostles, showing to Thomas the wounds and blessing for those who believe.

Continuing in this vein, it tells us in this weekend’s readings that Jesus never left us. He still taught as the trip to Emmaus occurred. He still gave life in the Eucharist at Emmaus.

After the Ascension, Jesus still met people and still reassured them of God’s mercy. He spoke, and speaks, through the Apostles, whose spokesman inevitably was Peter.

The Lord lives! His presence is neither vague nor occasional. Rather, it is in the sacrament and word, given yet still by the Apostles through the community of the Church. †

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!