Scripture Readings: Acts of the Apostles 3:13-19; First Letter of St John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48

Today’s first reading, from an address of Saint Peter to the Jewish people after he had cured a man in the Temple, refers to the showing forth of God’s saving power in Jesus Christ, in whose name the cure took place.

Peter says that “God glorified his Servant Jesus.” This calls to mind the suffering servant prophesies of Isaiah, especially chapter 52, verse 13 to chapter 53, verse 12, which include many words that are traditionally applied to the life and mission of God’s Son and Servant, Jesus Christ.

The Prophet Isaiah writes:

“See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high” (Isaiah 52:13). And also, “Surely he has borne our infirmities. Wounded for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:4 -5).

We especially contemplated these and similar divinely inspired words about God’s Servant, Jesus Christ, throughout Holy Week and especially on Good Friday.

Through his Resurrection, Christ became the source of eternal life for all people, and is called in the Letter to the Hebrews the “author of salvation” (Hebrews 2:10). The apostles, Peter among them, were witnesses of this truth and promoters of belief in God’s promises of redemption in the light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Saint Peter stresses to his hearers in the Acts of the Apostles the need for faith and the power that is inherent in the name of Jesus. The miracle performed at the Temple was to be understood as tangible proof of the Lord’s Resurrection and living presence among the people. Through the faith in Jesus of the apostles’, others, including ourselves, are to be committed to following the risen Lord.

Peter goes on to exhort the people to turn from sin and turn toward God, who has the power to forgive sins and heal the broken-hearted. This is a constant theme in the Acts of the Apostles and part of the mission given to the apostolic Church. It is also the Good News proclaimed throughout the ages to all the nations and until the present day.

The words of Saint John the Apostle in the second reading this Sunday also carry the message that Jesus is our advocate, who acts in our favor, for the reconciliation of people with God. While the call is to live with God, we still stray, but should never be discouraged by our human frailty, rather, use it as an occasion to call upon God’s help and place all our trust in God’s mercy. That was the point of last Sunday’s emphasis on divine mercy.

Put another way, which I fully accept and embrace as taught in our Tradition, is this truth: if the whole world is the object of God’s love, perfectly demonstrated in the saving action of Jesus Christ, then the community of believers is the object of God’s love and so there is nothing to fear. No one can take away this gift given by God. Reflecting on this truth should encourage all who strive, though less than perfectly, to follow the Lord.

To know God, which is one of the reasons God created us (along with to love and serve God), is to experience God. This is not something abstract or intellectual, but the realization of a personal relationship between a loving God and redeemed humanity. To know God is to know love, for God is love (see the First Letter of Saint John, chapter 4, verse 16), and the infinite love we have received from God is to be extended to others, to all of God’s children.

The believer who loves shows that he or she is truly born of God and that God’s truth and love are the driving force in one’s life. In loving others, the Christian extends God’s love which abides and works within the believer. As such, even the unbeliever is able to see something of the invisible God, by the loving deeds of believers.

This Sunday’s Gospel text emphasizes the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus and the human quality of the Risen Lord, who was seen and who conversed with people. At the same time some disbelieved and the process of bringing people to belief became an ongoing work, up to the present day.

One of the problems that the early Church faced was a tendency on the part of some to over spiritualize the Resurrection, with a notion that the risen Christ was a ghost or spirit, and not really in the flesh any longer, once he rose from the dead.

The Church Father, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who died about the year 107 AD, said this: “For myself, I am convinced and believe that even after the resurrection Christ was in the flesh” (ad Smyrn. 3, 1-3).

Saint Ignatius speaks for the entire Church in his statement, the orthodox belief that Christ was in bodily form, eating and drinking, after he rose from the dead, and the wounds of his crucifixion were still visible.

As the early disciples saw the Lord and doubted or believed, we are called to come into personal contact with the same risen Lord through prayer, Sacred Scripture, the celebration of the Sacraments of the Church, and the events of our life. To those who are open, Jesus bestows the gift of the Holy Spirit, as advocate and comforter, in our pilgrimage journey to God’s house.

This outpouring of the Holy Spirit is described in the Bible as “being clothed with power.” The Greek word for power and our word “dynamic” (and “dynamite”!) have the same Greek root, indicating a way of being and acting that every follower of Jesus should readily embrace, namely, demonstrating a dynamic impulse and good zeal for the things of God.

The promised Holy Spirit, which we especially remember at Pentecost, fifty days after the Lord’s Resurrection, reveals God’s plan to carry on the work of salvation until the end of time, and then to its perfect fulfillment in heaven. And what is heaven? Life with God and the angels and saints that transcends the death of our mortal bodies.

As this Paschal (Easter) season progresses, we should be yearning for and open to the generous outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, today and every day.

We pray that the Church’s proclamation to us and to all people of the resurrection of Jesus and our new life and responsibility as a result of the resurrection, may not seem to us an idle tale, but something that we personally believe in and so commit our lives anew to Christ each day.

Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB