3rd Sunday of Easter
EASTER 3RD SUNDAY
Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19 1John 2: 1-5 Lk. 24: 35-48
What we normally consider to be negative and unhelpful too can be used by God for the implementation of His plan.
Church, in its liturgical calendar, has various seasons. Each season has its own purpose to serve. Advent is the time of preparation. Lent is the time of repentance. And in this line Easter can be rightly called the season of gifts. It is during this season that we are in a special way aware of the gifts of the Risen Jesus. There are very many gifts, bestowed upon us by God through Risen Jesus such as peace, power, Holy Spirit etc.. In the background of today’s readings, let us reflect over two gifts, that God showers upon us.
(1). Transforming our negatives into His Channel of Grace:
As human beings, we have our own limitations and vulnerabilities. Quite often, we are ashamed of these limitations and try to hide them. But a consoling message is that God has the power to work through these human limitations and transform them. That is what we see in today’s first reading.
When St. Peter was addressing the Jews, after telling them that though they put Jesus into death, God raised him to life, he told them, “I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer.” What St. Peter communicates is that God fulfilled His plan – the plan which He had foretold through the prophets, – through the ‘ignorance’ of the Jewish people and their rulers.
In fact, what led to the death of Jesus on the cross was not merely the ‘ignorance’ of the Jewish rulers, but their pride and arrogance. However this pride and arrogance was due to their ignorance of the real meaning and true purpose of the laws and commandments, which Jesus gave importance to.
God worked through these limitations of the Jewish rulers and saved the world. It can be said that God brought redemption to this world, by using the ‘negatives’ of the Jewish people. But for their ignorance, the world would not have been redeemed.
Here we are called to remind ourselves that God does not merely condone human weaknesses, rather by creatively approaching it and using it, He transforms our weaknesses, and in this process, He also perfects the human nature. This particular gift of God can be realized in our lives, only when we humbly accept our human limitations and weaknesses without denying or justifying them, and offer them to God.
St. Teresa of Avila was a person who, in the first part of her life, had a strong sense of attachment towards persons. She herself acknowledges in her writings that her weakness was such that she was ready to do anything for the sake of the persons to whom she was attached. But later on, when she gradually turned her attachment to Jesus and allowed Him to work through her being, this attachment gave way to a deeper bond of relationship with Jesus. It was this weakness of attachment that led to a deeper personal relationship with Jesus. It is against the background of her experience, she wrote that it is possible for us to cultivate a deep personal friendship with God, and not be merely contended with Master-servant relationship.
(2). Washing off our sins:
St. John, in today’s second reading, points out that Jesus is the sacrificial Victim for our sins and the sins of the whole world. It is through Jesus Christ that our sins are completely washed off. He writes, “he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
In a world, where a significant number of people suffer from guilt-conscience, this particular message needs a special emphasis. Today many people, in their search for happiness, indulge in frivolity and sensuous pleasure. Merry-go-round seems to be their favourite game. But this life-style has its own consequences. At a particular point of their life, they begin to feel guilty of all they did. Consequently it becomes a big burden to carry on in the journey of life.
In such a pitiful situation, the world has to be told again and again that Jesus died for our sins. His death was not just a political death, but it was meant to wash us off our sins. James Samson, the inventor of Chloroform, was once asked, “What is your greatest discovery?”. He answered, “My greatest discovery is the discovery that Jesus is my Saviour and my Lord.” That has to be our deep-seated conviction.
That our sins are erased by Christ’s sacrifice is uncompromisingly pointed out by the author of Letter to Hebrews. He writes “…by the will of God, we are sanctified at once by the sacrifice of the body of Christ Jesus.” (Heb. 10: 10) and “Christ has offered for all times a single sacrifice for sins.” (Heb. 10: 12)
Loving Father, in stead of simply mourning over our weaknesses and sins, help us to surrender them into your hands and get them transformed, Amen.