April 24, 2009

Third Sunday of Easter / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Acts of the Apostles again furnishes the first biblical reading.

Almost every Sunday in the Easter season features a reading from this book of the New Testament.

In this reading, Peter preaches to the crowds in Jerusalem. Preaching about salvation and God’s mercy seem to be not at all unusual.

Americans are very accustomed to preaching. They hear it on the radio and television. It is a product of this country’s Protestant heritage.

Actually, to preach is to assume a mighty role and a great responsibility. Preaching, after all, by definition is not simply lecturing or speaking aloud. It is speaking in the very name of God.

Those who preached, by ancient Jewish standards, were privileged people indeed. No one chose to be a preacher. Rather, God selected each preacher. Therefore, Peter stood before this Jerusalem crowd as the representative of God.

Most importantly, he spoke in the place of Jesus. He preached the Good News of Jesus. This reading makes two points.

First, it establishes the identity of Peter. He is an Apostle. Moreover, he is the chief of the Apostles. He speaks on behalf of them all.

Secondly, because of Peter and the other Apostles, the salvation given by Jesus still reaches humankind. They continue the Lord’s work.

The First Epistle of John provides the second reading.

The epistles of John are alike in their eloquence and splendid language. They are alike in the depth of their theology and revelation.

This reading proclaims the majesty of Jesus, the Savior. However, it cautions, accepting Jesus as Lord is more than lip service. It is the actual living of the commandments by which, and through which, humans realize the perfection, love, order and peace of life in God.

St. Luke’s Gospel is the source of the last reading.

It is another Resurrection narrative, and it looks back to the Emmaus story, which reports the walk to a small town outside Jerusalem by two disciples and by the Risen Lord—and the disciples’ recognizing Jesus later in the “breaking of the bread,” in the Eucharist.

As this group of disciples was talking, Jesus stood in their midst. He was no longer bound by location or time. Risen from earthly life, victorious over sin, Jesus now lived in the fullness of eternity—even in the Incarnation, true God and true man.

He showed the disciples his pierced hands and feet. Indeed, these disciples were encountering the Crucified Christ who had overcome death and had lived!


The Church continues to summon us to the joy of the Easter celebration. He lives!

The readings once more this week exclaim the Church’s great trust in and excitement about the Resurrection. As St. Paul said, the Resurrection is the bedrock of our belief.

In these readings, the Church calls us to the fact that redemption was in Jesus. He is Lord. He is God. In Jesus, God saved the world from death.

As did the Lord, all people, even all believers, must die someday. But, as did Jesus, they too will rise if they do not relent in their love of and obedience to God. Thus, all believers can anticipate and provide for eternal life in God.

Christians further can rejoice in the fact that salvation did not pass away when Jesus, who lived for a time on Earth, ascended into heaven.

His mercy and power remain. His words endure. God has provided for us so that we also may have salvation. We may encounter Jesus. We may hear the Lord’s words.

We reach the Risen Jesus, and we learn of Jesus, from the Apostles. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, created to continue their work, which is the ongoing, life-giving work of Christ. †

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