Fr Vincent's reflections on the 3rd Sunday of Easter 2021
Jesus tells his disciples, “You are witnesses of these things,” meaning his passion, death, and resurrection. We have also witnessed Jesus’ work of salvation in our lives. But is Jesus satisfied that we have experienced his work for ourselves? Truly, what does Jesus mean for you and me today, who are witnesses of Jesus presence in our world?
watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 3rd Sunday of Easter 2021
Read the script:
Third Sunday of Easter (April 18, 2021)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this Third Sunday of Easter, let us pray:
May your people exult for ever, O God,
in renewed youthfulness of spirit,
so that, rejoicing now in the restored glory of our adoption,
we may look forward in confident hope
to the rejoicing of the day of resurrection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
Please pause this video and retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is Luke 24:35-48.
✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.
While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.
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
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
“You are witnesses of these things.” For a long time, when I heard these words of Jesus in the Gospel, I always assumed Jesus meant: you saw what happened; you witnessed these events. It took someone smarter than I am to point out that what is happening in this Gospel passage is that Jesus is commissioning the disciples to become people who speak about what they saw: you are evangelists; you will use your experience (what you saw) to preach repentance and forgiveness to others who have not seen or experienced Jesus yet.
That’s when I realized that because I had seen and experienced Jesus in my life, I had to speak to others about Jesus – it lead me to the priesthood. But Jesus was not commissioning priests at this moment; that was the Last Supper. Here, in a room filled with all sorts of disciples, Jesus is saying that everyone who has an experience of Jesus must spread the message to the world. That means that any of you who are people who know Jesus through hearing or reading the Gospel, through the experience of prayer and blessings in life, are also commissioned to speak on behalf of Jesus.
That Jesus wants YOU to preach can be a daunting thought. Yet, that is what I am asking each of us to consider this Third Sunday of Easter. Isn’t your relationship with Jesus, a relationship which brings you to faith, to prayer, to worship, to love for family and neighbor, worth sharing? Think of all the conversations we human beings share with each other, just because we feel excited about it: sporting events, family events, personal concerns and issues. We talk about almost anything (and now post comments and pictures on the internet), things that many people probably wish we would not bring up, but that doesn’t stop us! So why is sharing about Jesus so difficult for so many people? At least for me, talking about Jesus is much more worthwhile than swapping colonoscopy tales.
I am reminded of the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Proclaim the Gospel always; if necessary, use words.” Some would argue that this saying is used as an excuse not to preach or speak, when “preaching” is what Jesus expects. But I find it to be the exact opposite. People remember actions more than words. After all, we have that other famous quote: “Actions speak louder than words,” which is what the “proclaim the Gospel” quote intends. Remember Jesus’ own warning: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven,” (Matt 7:21).
So, you might not feel comfortable “teaching” or “preaching” to groups of people because you doubt your knowledge and comprehension of the Gospel. But if you have a true relationship with Jesus, and you “know” with your heart the Gospel, then with your own actions you can be a model of discipleship which others can see. This is possible for any of us from the youngest to the oldest, from those with immense knowledge as well as those who believe they know no more than the “Two Great Commandments.” You are an evangelizer regardless of how you might judge yourself, because your actions do proclaim the truth about your love for Jesus and the Gospel. The commission Jesus gives you today is to recognize the many opportunities you have to share the joy of his Gospel, and to do so boldly and with the same emotional conviction you use to cheer your school or your team.
In our world today, so many people have fallen away from their relationship with Jesus because disciples – people like you and me – have misunderstood the meaning of the word “witness.” We are not passive observers of Jesus in our world, but active proclaimers of all that he means for us and for the world. Jesus wants his Gospel shared, by word and by action, and truly YOU are appointed by Jesus to witness, to show, others the story of Jesus for all humanity.
And now, I would like to offer the tri-part Easter Blessing:
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
Bow down for the blessing.
May God, who by the Resurrection of his Only Begotten Son
was pleased to confer on you
the gift of redemption and of adoption,
give you gladness by his blessing. R/. Amen.
May he, by whose redeeming work
you have received the gift of everlasting freedom,
make you heirs to an eternal inheritance. R/. Amen.
And may you, who have already risen with Christ
in Baptism through faith,
by living in a right manner on this earth,
be united with him in the homeland of heaven. R/. Amen.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.