Third Sunday of Easter
April 18, 2021 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.
Chaplain, Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today’s readings invite us to be witnesses of the Risen Lord. In today’s Gospel, Jesus says to the apostles: “You are witnesses of these things” (Lk 24:48). In the first reading, Peter declares to the people: “God raised him [Jesus] from the dead; of this we are witnesses” (Acts 3:15).

We do not see Jesus directly but faith allows us to perceive his presence. Last Sunday, Jesus told Thomas: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (Jn 20:29). The Holy Spirit gives us the grace of recognizing Christ in all things. Through faith, we can have a personal knowledge of Jesus. His presence fills us with joy, as today’s responsorial psalm says, “You put gladness into my heart” (Ps 4:7), and with peace, as Jesus tells the apostles, “Peace be with you” (Lk 24:36). We recognize Christ’s presence, first of all, in the grace of the Sacraments: “The disciples recognized the Lord Jesus in the breaking of the bread” (Lk 24:35).

We are all called to bear witness of Christ. As Saint John Paul II said, “No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples” (RM #4).

The first way to be witnesses of Christ is to keep the commandments. In today’s second reading, Saint John says: “The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments” (1 Jn 2:3).

When the disciples of Emmaus were telling the apostles how they had encountered Jesus, the Lord himself stood in their midst. We evangelize others by telling them about our personal encounters with Jesus. The Holy Spirit uses our stories to touch the hearts of our listeners. Seeing how our lives have been changed for better by our encounters with the Jesus leads others to faith.

Recent scandals in the Church have increased the urgent need for credible witnesses of faith. Unfortunately, many people have been prevented from encountering Christ due to the sins and lack of faith of many members of the Church: “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin” (Lk 17:1–2).

A personal encounter with Christ reawakens the grace of our Baptism. The discovery of Christ as the center of our lives and all things is an experience of fulfillment and happiness. Jesus Christ came to fulfill all things in him. In today’s first reading, Peter says: “God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets” (Acts 3:18). In the Gospel, Jesus says to the disciples: “[…] everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled” (Lk 24:44). The fulfillment of the Scripture is a sign that God has a plan to fulfill all things in Christ. As Saint Paul says, “In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth” (Eph 1:8–10).

As today’s collect prayer says, the encounter with Christ restores our youthfulness of spirit and the glory of our adoption. We are truly sons and daughters of God! Our personal discovery of this fact impels us to tell everyone that God loves us. The greatest need each person in the world has is to encounter Christ. Saint John Paul II wrote in his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis: “The Church wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life, with the power of the truth about man and the world that is contained in the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption and with the power of the love that is radiated by that truth” (# 13).

May Mary, Star of Evangelization, help the Church to fulfill her mission. May Our Lady obtain for us the grace of being true witnesses of Jesus Christ in the world.   Amen.