The First Reading from Acts 3:12-26
12When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you. 17“And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.18In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, 20so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, 21who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets. 22Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you from your own people a prophet like me. You must listen to whatever he tells you. 23And it will be that everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be utterly rooted out of the people.’ 24And all the prophets, as many as have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, also predicted these days. 25You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your descendants all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke 24:36b-49
36While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence. 44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,46and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Easter III – Reminders of the Good News by Mother Beth
When you have had a bad experience or you have seen something traumatic it can take time to get over that feeling of grief and disappointment. The customer service industry knows that it can take up to seven good experiences for you to change your mind about a bad experience. And they are just referring to poor service or a mistake at the checkout. Some of us have witnessed some horrible things in our time – and although hopefully we don’t focus too much time on it – there are reports of atrocities and evil events all around us being reported in the news, on TV.
So is it any surprise that Jesus makes another resurrection appearance to us in the gospel reading for today? It is important to be reminded day after day, week after week that the resurrection occurred and that it is still good news for us today.
The disciples, remember, are still reeling from the events of the crucifixion. As far as Rome is concerned, they crucified Jesus as a statement to his followers – this is what we have done to your leader – much more will we do to you if you do not get into line and do what you should do – obey.
The disciples are unsettled and uncertain about how to go forward. They were strong when Jesus was with them – He was speaking words of encouragement and cheering them on – leading them forward. Now they are weakened by doubt and uncertainty.
Of course there have been reports that Jesus is alive. The women have reported back from their visit to the tomb. Mary has said that she has seen the Lord. The two people on the way to Emmaus were in the middle of discussions around the events of the crucifixion and a stranger appeared to walk with them. It wasn’t until he prayed and broke the bread that they realized that it was Jesus. They have reported back to the others that they have seen the Lord.
And now we have another opportunity – today in the gospel lesson we hear, “While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them”. He recognizes that they are afraid and that they have doubts.
He knows that they think maybe he is just an apparition, a ghost.
He says, “Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
What does it take for you to be convinced of something? Sometimes people will say, if Jesus walked in here today, then I would know for sure who he is and I would ask him that pressing question that I have been wondering about? But the real question is… If Jesus walked in here today, would you recognize him? Would you believe it was him?
Although we know the truth and we want to believe, sometimes this world shakes us up – Sometimes there is more death and dying going on around us than there is life and living.
It is not that we don’t want to have faith. It’s not that we don’t want to believe. We need to be reminded how great God is. We need to remember that he has conquered sin and death.
Jesus now reveals just how “real” and live he is by asking for food to eat. He wants the disciples to know – to be fully convinced He is not just a figment of their imagination – He is not just some spirit, ghost or apparition – this is not just a visit “from the other side” – some psychic’s rendering. He is there in the flesh – present with them – and so he eats to prove his presence – to show himself as a real body.
Then he proceeds to explain what has happened. That his death and resurrection are the fulfillment of God’s plan from the beginning of time.
Why does Jesus reveal himself to the disciples? Why does he go to such lengths to show who he is? So that the disciples will be witnesses. They will now be prepared to be sent out and tell others what they have seen and heard.
And they were faithful witnesses. That is proven by the Acts reading from today. We hear Peter’s testimony “13The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead….“And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.18In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out”
Peter explains that this is the power of God that heals and brings wholeness to the lives of others. He is able to testify to this because he has seen and experienced it for himself and then also seen and experience its power to transform others.
That is the power of the church – of gathering together – to remind each other of the amazing God that we serve – to remind each other as witnesses to the great things that God has done and continues to do.
It can be hard to keep believing day after day, week after week, on our own. There are too many reminders of death and not enough reminders of life. Globally, nationally, communally, personally, the presence of death is more palpable than the promise of life.
Life, here and now, is very hard to see. In the end, I think being resurrection people takes some effort, in fact, a lot of effort. And some weeks will demand more effort than others. Jesus knows this reality, our reality. And knows that we need a reminder.
Why does Jesus continue to reveal to himself to us? So that we can be witnesses with each other about him and his presence in our lives.
So that we can encourage and remind each other day after day. So that we can reach out to others who have not yet heard or seen or experienced. So that the good news about life can overcome the bad news in this world.
How does Jesus continue to reveal himself to us? Through each other. But more specifically I believe we can see the tangible ways that we experience Jesus in the narrative of the gospel lessons over the last weeks. On Easter Sunday, we heard that it was as Jesus spoke her name that Mary recognized Jesus and realized the truth of the resurrection. Speaking someone’s name is a sacred and intimate act. Can our friends and family trust us to speak their name with love and faithfulness?
In the gospel reading from last week, Thomas was entrusted with the opportunity to touch the wounds of Jesus. In this sacred and intimate act of touching – Thomas realized the truth about the resurrection. To touch the wounds is to acknowledge and validate the suffering of another. Can our friends and family trust us to handle their wounds – to acknowledge or validate their suffering?
In today’s gospel, Jesus partakes in a meal with the disciples. To break bread together – to sit and dine together is a sacred and intimate act. Are we welcoming our friends and family to partake in meals with us? Is our table a place of hospitality and grace? As we go about our day to day lives, are we faithful to reveal the love of a resurrected Jesus through the ways we interact with each other? Are we open to receiving the faithful witness of Christ as we speak, touch and eat with each other?
May God make us faithful in these and many other ways to remind each other of the good news of Jesus Christ and may He give us boldness to speak that good news to all. Amen.