[3rd Sunday of Easter, Year B, April 19, 2015 / Acts 3:13-15, 17-19 / Ps 4:2,4, 7-8, 9 / 1 John 2:1-5a / Luke 24:35-48]
IN today´s gospel (Luke 24:36-48) Jesus once again appears to his disciples in a so-called Post-resurrection appearance. He stands in their midst and announces, ¨Peace be with you!¨ The disciples are startled and terrified. They think they are seeing a ghost. Jesus tells them that it is he himself. After this the disciples are filled with joy and amazement. We see the disciples going through the gamut of emotions – in one minute fearful and afraid, then doubting and not believing, then amazed and joyful. In many ways a parody of our own human experiences. Some days we are up, sometimes we are down and sometimes we do not know where we are! We are changeable!
But Jesus is constant and his choice and love for each one of us is constant and unchangeable. He could have said to the disciples, ¨Right, I have had it up to here with you all. Enough is enough. I am going to find some others who might believe in me more.¨ But no, the election of his beloved is permanent, stable and everlasting. He is faithful even when we are unfaithful. He appears to the disciples and announces to them ¨Peace be with you!¨ He comes to strengthen them, to strengthen their faith and give them courage.
Perhaps we could wish for the same experience – to witness the risen Lord standing in our midst and telling us, ¨Peace be with you.” But is this not what happens in every Eucharist? The Risen Lord himself appears to us in the communion of believers, in the Word of God, and in the breaking of the bread. And do we not hear Jesus telling us in every Mass ¨Peace be with you¨? How different our lives would be if we really believed these words of Jesus.
In these days I caught an infection in my foot which made me feel a bit sick and a bit worried. I started to take antibiotics but I needed something to calm my soul. Man cannot live on antibiotics alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. I was praying and understood very clearly from the Risen Lord, ¨Peace be with you.¨ I felt calm. Later in the day, while resting my foot, I became anxious thinking of the many things I could otherwise be doing. I told Jesus and I listened to the same words, ¨Peace be with you.¨ Then later on I realized I could have explained something better to a person and again I heard those words, ¨Peace be with you.¨ How different our lives are when we listen to the words of the Risen Lord and not merely to our worries, concerns and anxieties!
What happens when we don’t listen to Jesus and instead listen to ourselves? In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 3:13-15,17-19), Peter addresses the crowd and referring to the crucifixion of Jesus says to them ¨the author of life you put to death.¨ This is very dramatic. How is it possible to put the author of life to death? But every time we listen more to ourselves, our whims, our changing feelings and ignore the voice of Jesus, when we don’t listen to his words then we live more in death than in life. We live in anxiety and fear more than in peace and harmony trusting in the words and constant love of the Risen Lord. What is stronger in my life – what I see, what I feel or what God sees and feels? St Peter pleads with the crowd and asks them to repent and be converted. We need a humble daily conversion.
When we don’t listen to God, when we say no to him, this is sin. In today’s second reading (1 John 2:1-5) St John reminds us that if we sin we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ. An Advocate who loves us and gave his life for us on the cross. He is our defender and shield. Even in the middle of faults and failings our God tells us in Christ ¨Peace be with you.¨ Christ comes not to condemn but to save. He gives us a medicine to strengthen us too. What is the medicine? His Word. St John reminds us ¨the love of God is truly perfected in the one who keeps his word.” To keep his word we must first receive it in prayer. To make space to listen to it, and then treasure that Word in our hearts, like Mother Mary did. What words of Jesus do you treasure in your heart?
Lord, you are the author of Life. Increase our faith. Help us to believe more in your love for us than in our shortcomings. Help us to believe more in your Word than in our changing feelings. Lord open our eyes to see your risen presence, protect us from the anxiety of the tempter, and help us to live in the peace of your risen presence. Amen.