Acts 3: 13 – 15, 17 – 19
1 John 2: 1 – 5
Luke 24: 35 – 48
During the Sundays after Easter, it’s very common that the Gospels are always another
Resurrection story, and today we have St. Luke. This story is a little different from the others, but
it depends very much on the Gospel of John. The two of them found similarities in the stories.
The two disciples on the road who had met Jesus, had spoken with him and didn’t recognize him
until he broke the bread in front of them. And, of course, that reminded them of the Eucharistic
sacrifice that had already become a custom at the time this story was told among all Christians.
“While they were still speaking about this, Jesus stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be
You must remember, they were up in the upper room with the doors locked out of fear that those
who arrested Jesus and ultimately crucified him would now hunt them down as well. They were
people who had a memory of a great hope and the hope was dashed on Good Friday when Jesus,
their Lord and their Messiah, was ruthlessly nailed to a cross and crucified. And they knew that he
had been buried in a grave.
And so, for them, there was no future left for all their hopes, for that the Messiah would create a
new way of living, a new world, and the old would be placed as a secondary kind of history,
because what mattered is that God had come and His son had changed the world. But how were
they to feel when they saw him so ruthlessly murdered on a tree? And so they were full of
despondency and they were full of guilt. And the reason they were full of guilt was they all ran
away, except for his mother and John and Mary Magdalene and a few women. And they had not
seen him. And they wondered what they would do if they went out to look for him and find him,
because the rumour was about from the two disciples that he was still alive.
This is a wonderful passage from Luke, because Luke lets us know that Jesus seeks us out when
we are troubled with doubts about ourselves, the world in which we live, our painful lives, all of
these things. When we don’t know what to do, when we feel maybe that even God has abandoned
us, it is Jesus who comes to us. And he just appears. He appears in their midst and the first words
he says are: “Peace. Peace be with you.”
Luke’s closing narrative tells of how Jesus revealed himself to his disciples to prove to them that
he really was alive and not a ghostly apparition. Skepticism came naturally to people in those days
as it does to us. Appealing to their ordinary human senses, Luke tells how Jesus urged the
disciples to touch the wounds in his hands and feet, and then asked for something to eat (Luke 24:
39 – 43). Luke included this detail to make sure that his audience, five decades removed from the
actual event, really understood the true nature of the Resurrection. It was no mere fantasy or
hallucination; it was a return from the dead, as scary and as incredible as it may have seemed, then
It is only after the disciples had come to receive this gift of forgiveness that they were sent out as
messengers of the Lord’s forgiveness to others. According to our gospel, the risen Lord, having
assured them that they were forgiven, went on to commission them to preach repentance for the
forgiveness of sins to all the nations. It is forgiven sinners who are entrusted with the task of
proclaiming the good news of God’s forgiving love to all. This is what we find Peter doing in
today’s first reading. He declares to the people of Jerusalem that, although they had handed Jesus
over to Pilate, God’s forgiveness was available to them if they turned to God by believing in Jesus.
The church has been faithful to the mission entrusted to the disciples, proclaiming down the
centuries the good news that God’s forgiveness is stronger than human sin. In raising Jesus from
the dead and sending him back to those who had rejected him and failed him, God was declaring
that he can raise anyone from their sins. The risen Jesus reveals a faithful, forgiving God. Today’s
second reading states this clearly: ‘If anyone does sin, we have our advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ, who is just’.
Before we can receive the Easter gift of God’s forgiveness that comes to us through the risen Lord,
we must first acknowledge our need of that gift. In the words of today’s second reading, we need
to admit the truth. The truth is that we are always in need of the gift of God’s forgiveness.
Recognizing our need and asking God for the gift of forgiveness is what we call repentance. Peter
in the first reading calls on the people of Jerusalem to repent and turn to God so that their sins may
be wiped out. The risen Lord in the gospel sends out his disciples to preach repentance for the
forgiveness of sins. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a privileged opportunity to admit the truth,
to acknowledge our need of God’s forgiveness and to ask directly for it. In that sacrament that the
risen Lord says to us, ‘Peace be with you’. The words of absolution include the prayer, ‘through
the ministry of the church may God grant you pardon and peace’.
The first disciples, having received the gift of the Lord’s forgiveness, were sent to spread that
forgiveness to others. In a similar way, we who receive the same gift are sent out on the same
mission. As forgiven sinners we proclaim with our lives the presence of a forgiving and faithful
God. We extend to others the gift we have received from the Lord. This will not always come easy
to us. Who was it who said, ‘to err is human, to forgive is divine’? If that is true, we need divine
help to do what is divine. In the verses that immediately follow where today’s gospel ends, the
risen Jesus promises his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit upon them. It is only in the
power of the Holy Spirit that they would be able to engage in the task that Jesus was entrusting to
them. We need the same Spirit if we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. In the weeks ahead
that lead up to the feast of Pentecost, we might pray the prayer, ‘Come Holy Spirit, fill my heart
and enkindle in me the fire of your love’. We could pray this prayer especially during those times
when we find ourselves struggling to pass on to others the gift of forgiveness that we continue to
receive from the Lord.
God bless. Have a wonderful day.