Happy Easter! Yes, it is still time to celebrate Easter. The Easter Season does not end until Pentecost. The readings continue to deal with our relationship to the Risen Jesus. With the hearers of Peter’s sermon in Acts, I must ask myself, how does the Easter proclamation of the resurrection affect me? Does it move me to conversion? John’s insistence on living my faith causes me to ask: Do I walk with Jesus in my life or have I turned faith into an intellectual exercise? In the Gospel I am asked to reflect: to what extent do I allow Jesus to open my mind to the truth of the scriptures?
First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 3:13-15, 17-19
13 Peter said to the people: “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and (the God) of Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, when he had decided to release him. 14 You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. [16 And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you.] 17 Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; 18 but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”
NOTES on First Reading:
* 3:13 The portion in italics was added by the Lectionary to indicate who is speaking.
* 3:13-16 These verses present the basic Easter kerygma, or proclamation of the faith. It is unusual in that the exaltation is taken up first before the passion and death for our sins. This is so that the miracle can be taken up directly and used in counter arguments.
* 3:16 This verse is not included in the reading as is indicated by the brackets.
* 3:13 In the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, God reversed the judgment against Jesus that the world had rendered on the occasion of his trial. The Greek word for servant that is used here can also be rendered as “son” or even “child” here and also in Acts 3:26; 4:25 (where it is applied to David); Acts 4:27; and Acts 4:30. Scholars are generally of the opinion, however, that the original concept reflected in the words identified Jesus with the suffering Servant of the Lord of Isaiah 52:13- 53:12. Use of the servant and leader titles brings to mind the language of Exodus in speaking of Moses. This sets up Moses as a type for Jesus and leads into the Mosaic Christology of the conclusion of this sermon.
* 3:14 “Holy and Righteous One,” as a designation for Jesus, emphasizes His special relationship to the Father (see Luke 1:35; 4:34) as well as His sinlessness and religious dignity that are placed in contrast with the guilt of those who rejected Him in favor of Barabbas. Even the name, “Barabbas” which means “Son of the Father,” points to the contrast between he who was chosen and the true Son of the Father who was rejected by His people.
This verse uses ancient messianic titles that serve to emphasize the rhetoric of contrast between what God and what Man has brought about.
* 3:15 Alternate translations of the Greek title given here as “author of life” are “leader of life” or “pioneer of life.” The intent of the title is clearly to point to Jesus as the source and originator of salvation.
* 3:16 Peter ascribes the miracle to the Name and power of the Risen Jesus, Himself.
* 3:17-19 Ignorance is a strong Lucan motif, that explains away the actions not only of the people but also of their leaders in crucifying Jesus. It is on this basis that the presbyters in Acts could continue to appeal to the Jews in Jerusalem to believe in Jesus, even while affirming their involvement in His death. They would appeal to their lack of unawareness of His messianic dignity. See Acts 13:27 and Luke 23:34. Now, however, the Apostolic kerygma brings an end to ignorance and puts the hearers who believe in touch with the saving power of Jesus. The result is seen in a positive response to the call to repent in verse 19.
* 3:18 The early Christians saw the crucifixion and death of Jesus as the main message of messianic prophecy. The Jews themselves had not anticipated a suffering Messiah. Rather, they generally understood the Servant Song in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 as signifying their own suffering as a people. As is typical (see Luke 18:31; 24:25,27,44) of him, Luke does not specify the particular Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus. In fact, Luke is the only New Testament writer to speak explicitly of a suffering Messiah (Luke 24:26,46; Acts 3:18; 17:3; 26:23). The idea of a suffering Messiah is not found in the Old Testament or in other Jewish literature prior to the New Testament period. The idea is hinted at in Mark 8:31-33.
Second Reading: 1 John 2: 1-5a
1 My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. 2 He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. 3 The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.
NOTES on Second Reading:
* 2:1 John’s use of the term,” Children,” is an expression of pastoral love (see John 13:33; 21:5; 1 Cor 4:14). Forgiveness of sin is assured through Christ’s intercession and expiation or “offering.” These are technical terms emphasizing that the death of Christ brought about the removal of our sin which had blocked our encounter with God and His grace.
* 2:3-11 This section is built around three improper claims (2, 6, 9) which are each corrected (4-5, 6, 9) in turn by the addition of an ethical dimension.
* 2:3-6 Here John is insisting that mere intellectual knowledge is insufficient without obedience to God’s commandments in a life conformed to the example of Christ. This confirms our knowledge of Him and is the love of God. Disparity between one’s moral life and the commandments proves improper belief.
Gospel Reading: Luke 24:35-48
35 Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
36 While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? 39 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.” 40 And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of baked fish; 43 he took it and ate it in front of them.
44 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.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. 46 And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.”
NOTES on Gospel:
* 24:36-43,44-49 Luke, like the other Gospel writers (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:14-15; John 20:19-23), focuses on an important appearance of Jesus to “the Twelve,” now the Eleven, in which they are commissioned for their future ministry.
* 24:36 The greeting of “Peace” is well attested and is probably authentic.
* 24:39-42 One purpose of this story is evident in the concern with the physical details and the report that Jesus ate food. It is all there to demonstrate that Jesus was really alive and present with them.
* 24: 42-43 Based upon the usage of 2 Kings 11:13; Luke 13:26 and Acts 27:35; 1:4 and 10:41, the phrase, “in front of them,” might be better translated as “at their table.” Here the victory over death is symbolized by Jesus’ renewal of table fellowship with His disciples. This theme seems to predominate even over the theme of an apologetic insistence on the reality of Jesus’ bodily presence.
* 24:45 Luke’s theme of revelation continues with the opening of more eyes and minds.
* 24:46 Luke is the only New Testament writer who speaks explicitly of a suffering Messiah (Luke 24:26,46; Acts 3:18; 17:3; 26:23). The idea of a suffering Messiah is not found in the Old Testament or in other Jewish literature prior to the New Testament period, although the idea is hinted at in Mark 8:31-33.
* 24:47 Jesus is the Messiah for all the world and therefore must be proclaimed in all the world. Thus Luke’s theme of universal salvation will go out to all the world. </font