The Third Sunday of Easter [B]
Acts 3:13-15,17-19 + 1 Jn 2:1-5 + Lk 24:35-48
April 15, 2018
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
Jesus declared that His followers are to preach the Good News of the Gospel to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Jerusalem, of course, was the historical “birthplace” of the Church: it was there that Jesus celebrated His Last Supper, and there that He died and rose from the dead. It was in Jerusalem that the apostles waited during those ten days after Jesus’ Ascension for the Holy Spirit to come down upon them from Heaven, to fill their hearts, minds, and souls.
Those days of waiting for the Holy Spirit to come were days of being withdrawn from the world. Those days were a winter of sorts. The apostles prayed intently, in order to prepare a place inside themselves for the Holy Spirit to dwell. For you, then, “Jerusalem” represents both the historical city where the Church began, and the place in your soul where God plants His grace for the sake of its bearing fruit.
When Jesus tells us to preach the Gospel to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem, he means for us to preach the Gospel to as many people as we can, beginning with those closest to our souls: those within our homes, in our classrooms, and in our neighborhoods. It’s to the people there that Jesus is sending us when he says, “As the Father sent me, so I send you.”
There are many ways of “preaching”. We should keep in mind the saying of Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach always, and if necessary, use words.” That is to say, you can preach without opening your mouth. The Christian’s example is usually more persuasive than his words, since most of us Christians are not gifted speakers.
The greatest example we can offer is forgiveness. As the Father forgave us through Jesus’ Death on the Cross, so we are called to forgive others. There are different ways to forgive, but our example of forgiving has to be a Christian example. There are different ways to forgive. Anyone with an ounce of humanity forgives others who have hurt him. The Christian, however, offers forgiveness first, not seeking an apology from others, and not even expecting it at the same time: just as Christ on the Cross not only did not receive an apology from those around Him, but received instead mockery and scorn.
For us, too, Jesus does not wait to forgive us until we are good enough to appear before Him and offer an apology. He offers to cleanse us of our sinfulness when we are yet babies, unable even to speak or realize that we are born into the world as sinful members of the human family. We in our turn should offer forgiveness from our hearts and through our words and actions before someone who has wronged us even asks for it. This is the message that alone can bring peace to the world, and that have the power to make present in our own day and age the words of Jesus: “Peace be with you.”