“But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to live [just] as he lived.” 1 John 2:5,6
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Peace be with you! During this glorious Easter season, we experience through Scripture the formation of the early Church. The challenge for the early Christians was to remember Jesus and His Word and to continue to follow Him, even though He was no longer physically with them. So, in the first reading of the Third Sunday of Easter, St. Peter chastises a group of people in Jerusalem for crucifying the “author of life” in their ignorance and asks them to repent and be converted, that their sins may be wiped away. St. John also asks those who believe to keep His Word because by keeping God’s Word, we are in union with God and will live as Jesus lived when He was among them. In the Gospel reading of St. Luke, Jesus once again appears to the disciples, and says, to their uncertain spirit, “Peace be with you.” He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
During this Easter season, we celebrate the living Christ, resurrected and living within each one of us by virtue of our baptism. When one of our relatives dies, how do we celebrate them? We look at photos, we share stories of our time with him or her, we recall moments with him or her in the quiet space of our hearts. The early Christians, also spurred by the disciples’ proclamation of the Gospel, recalled their time with Jesus while others came to know Jesus because of their stories or through the breaking of the bread.
We celebrate the living Christ as we participate in the Holy Mass. As we read Scripture, the Word of God, on our own or hear it proclaimed during the celebration of Mass, we are listening to God’s proclamation of the story of salvation, we hear stories of Jesus, yesterday, today and forever. The priest who offers the homily continues to share stories of Jesus through his lived experience. Jesus left us the gift of the Eucharist, an action of thanksgiving to God, by which we might receive Him fully. It is not the Eucharistic food that is changed into us, but rather we who are mysteriously transformed by it. Christ nourishes us by uniting us to His Body; “He draws us into the life of the Trinity in giving us His Body as our Bread of Life.”
This Bread of Life is always reconciling. This is the Peace about which Jesus spoke when He entered the room of the disciples. It is this Peace which we extend to each other during the celebration of Mass, the Peace that comes from our forgiveness of each other’s trespasses. How can we live as Jesus did if we are unable to extend the breath of Peace to each other?
“Effectively God is perfect”, said Pope Francis, “but if we consider Him in this way, it becomes impossible for man to tend towards that absolute perfection. Instead, keeping Him before our eyes as merciful allows us to understand better what his perfection consists in, and drives us to be like Him, full of love, compassion and mercy”.
Jesus, asks His disciples, he asks us – to be a sign, a channel, a witness of His mercy. Pope Francis offers, “The Church cannot be other than the sacrament of God’s mercy in the world, in every time and towards all humanity. “Mercy is expressed, first of all, in forgiveness.”
During this holiest of seasons, let us not lose the remembrance of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection. Let us participate in it during the celebration of Mass and live the gift of the Eucharist fully every moment of our lives, that the love of God may be perfected in each one of us. Then our world will truly be His holy kingdom.
Diocese of Orlando
Third Sunday of Easter 2018