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Contents: Volume 2 - 3rd Sunday of EASTER (B)
- April 18, 2021

 

3rd

SUNDAY

EASTER

B


1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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3rd Sunday of Easter

I always feel so hopeful reading the selections from the Acts of the Apostles. The passages are our heritage. They are also our set of directions for how to spread the Good News.

In the first reading, Peter uses direct and strong words, not to berate unbelievers, but to offer them forgiveness of their sins. In the first letter of St. John, we read/hear that Jesus has atoned for our sins. We are encouraged to keep the commandments as a way to learn about Jesus and have love perfected in us by the Father.

In the Gospel story according to Luke, we see a very practical Jesus asking for something to eat after he shows the two disciples he is flesh and bones and assures them that he is not a ghost. After that, Jesus "opened their minds" to understand the Scriptures. Finally, Jesus tells them "You are witnesses of these things."

We, too, are witnesses of the many things done by Jesus and in the Name of Jesus. We read/hear about them from Scripture. We are able to witness them in our everyday lives each day if only we look carefully about us.

It is our turn now, to witness to these truths and spread the Good News. How have our lives changed because of the Risen Lord? What can we do in very down-to-earth and practical ways, in the spirit of friendship and encouragement, to bring the Good News into the lives of others by sharing our story?

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Third Sunday of Easter April 18, 2021

Acts 3:13-15 & 17-19; Responsorial Psalm 4; 1st John 2:1-5; Gospel Acclamation Luke 24:32; Luke 24:35-48

The readings for this Third Sunday of Easter are really amazing. Unfortunately, like so much of living that is amazing, we often fail to put ourselves in the scene. "Yeah, that’s really something." And then we just go on again in our customary way, worried about the pandemic, conflicted in a near violent way with family, neighbors, fellow citizens about politics, and concerned about survival. Survival means more than staying alive physically. Recent events tell us physical survival is high among our concerns if we are part of a minority. We note that the law and our constitution fail repeatedly to preserve, protect, and to guarantee due process to those without standing in society. Most of us get accustomed to things as they are and go along to get along. It’s most convenient to go along with culture, relationships, economic paradigms, and social injustices because that’s just the way it is. We are morally poverty stricken by allowing status quo to continue even though culture and practice are an affront to our Gospel.

This Sunday’s readings continue the accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus. The gospel of Luke provides another look into the reaction of the friends and followers of Jesus. Until we put ourselves in their shoes and walk with them for the time of Holy Week and Easter, we’ll stay stuck in our everyday beliefs and culture. The disciples gathered in the upper room in a deep depression. All their hopes for a new beginning for their nation died on the cruel cross. They buried themselves in the borrowed tomb with the body of Jesus. By the time of this scene in Luke’s gospel they had heard from near-hysteric women that Jesus was alive. They heard from Simon – renamed Peter – that he and another disciple had seen Jesus. The two disciples who claim to have walked to Emmaus with a stranger who turned out to be Jesus rushed back to Jerusalem with their strange and unbelievable tale. To those who had yet to encounter the living Jesus, this seemed like an illusion, a fabrication of grieving minds. Perhaps the stress of the events of the past three days had brought them into hallucination?

In these stories we see ourselves and how we understand the events of our time. We take into our minds and hearts through filters created by past experience, by culture, and by relationships. For example, persons whose life is dominated by victimhood – real or chosen – have a difficult time loving themselves, others, and creation. Their experiences filter through a mesh of insecurity, of self-disdain, and of jealousy and/or envy. Anyone filtering experiences through self-pity knows how very miserable it makes them. Clinical depression robs many of vitality, peace of mind, and happiness.

In these resurrection appearances Jesus goes to great lengths to apply Hebrew Scriptures to what happened to him. He applies the Law of Moses, the writings of the prophets, and the verses of the psalms to his sufferings and death. In his instruction, Jesus reveals God as God is. That God is often in opposition to our personal understandings of what and who God is. The Hebrews in their time and we in ours filter our understanding of who God is for us through our secular experiences. We apply what we experience each day to what God is. Our experiences of civil law, economics, social interactions, and political movements define for us who and what God is. Using those criteria we attempt to make God into our image and likeness. That’s really idolatry.

That’s so much of what this Easter season is about in the time of the apostles and today. The Passion, Death, and Resurrection bring a new filter to human experience. The terrors are still with us. There is still war, famine, social unrest, violence, and hatred. There is so much of sin in our daily living that it becomes difficult to understand our living in the light of the Christ. Yet, at Christmas we insist Jesus is the light of the world. His presence helps us see. And what is it that we see? That God loves us no matter what.

Against this and denying the experience of God’s love is the experience of sin and sinfulness. Accustomed as we are to understanding sin in the light of retributive justice, we look to the Ministry, the Cross, and the Resurrection as some sort of ransom, a get out of jail card. The passage from the first letter of John this week-end corrects this notion. He speaks about Jesus being an advocate. Immediately we take this to mean Jesus stands up for us in the court of God who is just and who seeks retribution for sins and transgressions. What would happen to our sense of victimhood if instead of looking at Jesus as a lawyer for the defense we’d look at Jesus as the advocate for God? What a turn around that would be. Then sin would not be the all important, all consuming focus and filter of our self-awareness. If Jesus is the advocate for God, then his role in our living is that he continually calls us to accept God’s absolutely unconditional loving. The cross is the absolutely clear and compelling call to humanity to accept God’s love. Jesus is expiation for sin. That is, he reaches into our hearts and minds and lifts us up out of sinfulness into the freedom of the children of God. His action is a constant call for us to turn away from victimhood into son/daughtership. That call expiates our blindness. This is no ransom! This is no substitution of retributive suffering for us. This incarnation, ministry, suffering, death, and resurrection are proof of God’s love.

This is not mirage. This is no illusion. "Come, touch me and see that I am not a ghost for ghosts do not have flesh and bones. Give me something to eat so to prove I’m real."

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not interested in retribution. God is not out to punish prodigal sons and daughters. He is the Dad who in every waking moment looks up the road which took away his son. He watches, hoping, preparing for the moment when the prodigal returns home. No matter the sorrow that son or daughter would confess. "Welcome, welcome home, my child. I love you, I want you with me, I will never deny you." That is the advocate of which John writes. That is the advocate that Jesus promised to send.

Peter’s speech to the crowd of Jews helps us to understand. He doesn’t mince his words. "You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did… Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away."

That theme of repentance is a constant in our faith. When we turn to find our meaning, purpose, dignity, and worth in things of the world, then we fail to understand God as the only effective energy for life. The world thrives on domination, on competition, on power, on wealth, and on fame. All of these pass away. Only the love of God endures and provides us what our spirits seek. Only the love of God continually calls us. Only the Love of God for us adopts us as his daughters and sons.

Sin is certainly with us and the evil one constantly seeks to mislead us, to trap us into thinking God doesn’t love us. Fr. Terence Klein in a posting in the America magazine newsletter of April 7, 2021 says it well. This is taken from his article.

"Whatever else sin is, it is always a forgetting that we are loved by God. And the more we sin, the more we forget. Maybe instead of creating a new word "sin" we should have called wrongdoing ‘our forgetfulness.’ Sin begins when we forget that we are loved by God. Then we become afraid and choose something less than being happy in God’s love. (Fr. Terence Klein in America magazine newsletter April 7, 2021)

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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DISHING OUT HELL OR HEAVEN: 3rd SUNDAY EASTER B

The famous French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, once said: ‘Hell is other people.’ Judging on hellish things done to others, sometimes this is all too true. A while back, a young Indian woman about to start her career as a medical doctor in Delhi goes out with her boyfriend to see a movie. On their way home in the bus, they are set upon by a group of three men, who then brutally rape her, murder her, and try to hide her body. The many people who esteem and love her are left broken-hearted. But the perpetrators and even their lawyers dare to claim they are innocent because any decent girl would not be out after dark. In the USA a young unarmed man flees from a policeman who chases and shoots him dead with a spray of bullets. In Kenya, one hundred and forty-two students, mainly Christians, are gunned down on a university campus north of Nairobi by Islamic militants. In Australia, a young teacher lets herself into her high school on Easter Sunday to prepare her next class but is stalked by someone known to her. Her assailant shoots her dead, transports and burns her body in bushland miles away. She was soon to marry the love of her life.

But if hell is often other people, so too is heaven. The good news is that many people constantly and repeatedly bring comfort, joy, reassurance, peace, and contentment to others. On television, Nana Mouskouri wows her listeners with her beautiful signature song ‘The White Rose of Athens’. An autistic boy wanders away from home into forest land near a weir and goes missing for five days. But many people give up their Easter holidays to join the police in the search. Finally, cold and hungry and sitting on the side of a precipice, he is spotted from the air and rescued. When a mother takes a dizzy turn and accidentally drives a car full of children into a lake, dozens of people wade into the lake to try to free them.

Just days ago, you and I were remembering the sufferings and death of Jesus our Saviour. As we looked on his crucified body with sorrow, love, and gratitude, we came face to face with the dark side of human nature that led his enemies to give him hell, by torturing and humiliating him, and then killing him on the rough wood of a cross. On that black day in Jerusalem, the capacity of human beings to hate, hurt and harm one another went right out of control.

Good Friday found us wondering over and over again: Why was this good man, this innocent man, this man with so much honesty and integrity, so much humanity and compassion, so much warmth and generosity, so much affection and kindness, violated, humiliated, tortured and murdered?

The motives which led his enemies to persecute and destroy him are those which have always influenced human beings to hurt and harm one another - arrogance and pride, power-seeking and ambition, envy and jealousy, anger and fear, hatred and revenge. Good Friday reminded us of the dark and hellish side of human nature and its associated evils.

Fortunately, however, this is not the whole truth. For if we experience so much evil, we also experience an abundance of goodness - glimpses of heaven on earth. The crops keep producing food for our tables. The summer heat gives way to cooling autumn breezes. Most diseases are now curable. Tyrants are sometimes overthrown. Social reforms like pensions for the needy are here to stay. Conflicts end in reconciliation. Shaky marriages get patched up. Love survives misunderstandings, thoughtlessness, and indifference. Wars come to an end. Enemies become friends. We forgive others and are forgiven. Just as our Risen Lord has promised in today’s gospel: ‘... repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations...!’ In a word, there is goodness everywhere, more so than evil. In all such traces of heaven, the light of Easter, the influence of the Risen Christ, keeps shining upon us.

Yet one mighty struggle goes on between good and evil, between hellish and heavenly influences. It goes on in the material universe, in human societies, and within our personalities. Evil even seems stronger than good. But it has not yet finally triumphed. Though too often it seems to be in danger of being crushed, it manages to survive, and even to win many victories. The words of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of Independent India, are so true: ‘When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but, in the end, they always fall.’

Our continuing celebration of the resurrection of Jesus reminds us that evil will not have the last say ether in us or our world. It leaves us in no doubt about the ultimate triumph of goodness, not only in ourselves but everywhere around us. Jesus was buried at sunset, to all appearances a victim and a failure. But on the third day after, the sun came up on him alive and powerful, influential and victorious. It will be the same for us who continue to celebrate Easter by renouncing and rejecting everything dark and evil in our lives, and by renewing our determination to always walk with Jesus in his light.

So, dear People of God, what’s it to be? What will we dish out to others? Will we give them hell on earth, or with the grace of God will we give and keep giving them, little slices of heaven?

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net. Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John Boll, OP


 

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Volume II Archive

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3 EASTER (B) 2 EASTER (B) The TRIDUUM PALM SUNDAY LENT V LENT IV


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