We are in the third week of Easter. The readings this Sunday invite us to have faith in the risen Lord and also remind us of the purpose of Jesus’ death and Resurrection, which is to save us from our sins. We are invited to bear witness to the risen Lord. How do we do it? By repenting of our sins, renewing our lives, and meeting Jesus in one another, especially in the Word of God and in the Eucharist that we celebrate week after week.
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles describes how Peter fulfills the mission of preaching the word of Jesus, the risen Lord. This is Peter’s second sermon where he continues with the preaching mission begun on Pentecost in Jerusalem. He presents Jesus with conviction as the fulfillment of all the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. He also asks the people to turn toward God so that their sins may be forgiven, “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.” Peter’s call to conversion and change of life is centered on Jesus’ death and Resurrection.
In the second reading, John tells us that true knowledge and love of God consist in acknowledging that Jesus is the expiation for our sins. John reminds us that the death of Jesus was a sacrifice, like the sacrifices offered in the Old Testament. The sacrifice of Jesus makes up for sins, and so offers an opportunity for their forgiveness. Further, John says that Jesus continues to remain our advocate when we encounter the harsh reality of sin in our lives. Hence, John advises early Christians to approach Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and to lead true Christian lives by obeying His commandments.
The Gospel invites us to reflect on faith, doubts and growing in relationship with the risen Lord. The reading shows how Jesus convinced His disciples of His Resurrection and how He commissioned them to be His witnesses throughout the world. The disciples were terrified at the tragic death of Jesus. By inviting His apostles to look closely at Him and touch Him, Jesus removed any fear that they were seeing a ghost. He instilled confidence in them that He loved them by greeting them: “Peace be with you.” By eating a piece of broiled fish before their eyes, He convinced them that they were not having a vision, but that they were actually seeing the Lord. Jesus wanted them to be authentic witnesses to the reality of His life as their risen Lord with His glorified soul and body.
The same Jesus who, in the Upper Room, prepared His disciples for their preaching and witnessing mission, is present with us in the Eucharistic celebration. He invites us to share in the “Liturgy of the Word of God” and in the “Liturgy of Bread and Wine.” In the first part of Mass, Jesus speaks to us through the “Word of God,” and in the second part, He becomes our spiritual food and drink. Thus, today’s Gospel scene is repeated every Sunday on our parish altar. Like the early disciples, we come together to repent of our sins, express our thanks for the blessings we have received, to listen to God’s words and to offer ourselves to God on the altar along with our gifts of bread and wine. We also share in the spiritual food Jesus supplies, and we are sent to share His message with the people around us, especially in our homes and neighborhoods.
We may want to evangelize and we are called to evangelize, but we often struggle with it. Pope Benedict XVI said, “Indeed, every Christian community is born missionary.” We can evangelize in many ways; for example, you can invite someone to attend Mass with you, say hello to the person next to you in the pew, and be sure to smile. Let me share with you the experience of a dying old woman with her head in the lap of St. Teresa of Calcutta. The lady looked at St. Theresa for a long time, and in a feeble voice asked her: “Are you Jesus who loves the poor and the sick?” It is a powerful image of evangelization. Yes, like Mother Theresa, you can be Jesus to someone in so many ways. The question for this week is, “How can I be Jesus to someone?”