Fr. Rick’s Homily: 3rd Sunday of Easter

April 14, 2024

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; Ps 4:2, 4, 7-9; 1 Jn 2:1-5a; Lk 24:35-48

The early disciples were sent out to preach God’s mercy and the forgiveness of sins.  This seems to imply that people of the time had some concept of sin and maybe even considered themselves sinners.

The first reading today from Acts of the Apostles has Peter speaking to first century Jews who are being confronted with the true identity of Christ who they killed.  Peter includes in the teaching the fact that the Jews did so out of ignorance.  Peter was there.  Peter was a Jew who had also wrestled with his belief and trust in Jesus.  He could understand how people can act out of fear and ignorance.  The result was the same; they killed Jesus.  They killed the one whose coming was foretold for centuries in their oral traditions and Scriptures.  They should have recognized Jesus.  They didn’t.  And now they needed to fess up in order to receive the grace that comes with accepting Jesus.

With the death and resurrection of Jesus will come the Holy Spirit which enables believers to now participate in the very life of God in the most personal way.  The Holy Spirit will allow the believers to think and act with the very Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge and Strength of God.  This level of personal participation was simply not available before the Resurrection.

This is the ever-recurring point of the Easter readings.  God knows how difficult it is to accept the reality of God among us in such a deep, personal way.  For one, it speaks to a whole different reality than the experience of our day-to-day lives.  I would speculate that most Catholics have not had many conversations about the new life they have experienced since the most recent Easter celebration.  Maybe that had something to do with the level of preparation during Lent.  As Americans we have bought into our very deliberate, self-directed, self-determined culture.  The type of life that calls us to be part of a mission oriented, interdependent community is simply not part of our collective experience as Catholics.  Largely because we were not raised this way, ignorance, and partly because of fear.  This would require most of us to turn ourselves inside out.  And then of course if you add hubris (pride) to the ignorance and fear, you have a very messy, tangled up group of people.  That’d be us.  Us. U.S.

The bravest among us are currently venturing into a guided discussion concerning the Truth about Love, Marriage and Sexuality.  Our ongoing study of the Theology of the Body with the book, Adam and Eve are from Eden will be very enlightening if we hang with it.

This is the supreme contemporary example of ignorance that St. Peter is still teaching about.  We can see the results of our ignorance all around us in the unraveling of our society, much of which is related to the unraveling of the family and our understanding of marriage and love.  Even though we may have been understandably ignorant, the damage has still been done.  It would have been terrifying to resist the onslaught of pop culture, consumer culture, and the sexual revolution of the past 60 years or so.  We folded.  Laity and clergy.  We folded.

Ignorance and fear and hubris still infect our lives despite the personal presence of God among us and the ample warnings we have received from God (and yes, even the Church) over the decades.

Even in our present jaded and fearful condition, God still overs us forgiveness if we can bring ourselves to recognize our need for it.

Please consider the reflection questions listed in today’s bulletin which I will read to you now, JUST IN CASE, you don’t get around to it right away.

Homily Reflections

  1. ““But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.”  Lk. 24:37   When might the reality of a personal God frightened or even terrified you?  Had you finally gotten used to the idea that you were pretty much on your own and just needed to call on God when you were in a bind?  Did the ‘appearance’ of a personal God call you into a more demanding relationship or a more demanding mission?

2. Then (Jesus) said to them, “Why are you troubled?  And why do questions arise in your hearts?”  Lk. 24:38    When have you really questioned the reality of God or God’s mercy in your life?  How was your faith restored?

3. “Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer.  Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.” Act 3:17-19

This is a very beautiful and challenging passage given the very widespread level of doubt and rejection of Church teaching.  Reflecting back on the past decades, what teachings might you have rejected most strongly out of ignorance (or hubris) and later realized the damage that resulted?  When did you realize that your sins had been wiped away?  How did that change your life?

Let us now enter more deeply into the sacred meal that prefigures the heavenly WEDDING banquet that is our destiny.