Third Sunday of Easter – Year B

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Nicholas Martorano, O.S.A.
Church of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Readings
Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19
Ps 4: 2, 4, 7-8, 9
1 Jn 2: 1-5a
Lk 24: 35-48

There are many things and experiences in life that create fear in us. Anything from heights to speaking in public. Fear is a crippler. It prevents us from enjoying life in its fullness. Think about the fears you have or have dealt with in the past that made your life more difficult than it needs to be.

Now take yourself back in time and think about the Disciples after the crucifixion. The Scripture says that they locked themselves in a room for fear of the Jews. Or better yet, for fear of being found, tortured or even crucified themselves like their Master, Jesus. I would say that these were some very legitimate fears to have to deal with and would definitely have kept them in hiding. The Disciples were confused, fearful and troubled because they still did not understand all that had taken place in Jerusalem concerning Jesus, even though the Lord prepared them for what was going to happen to Him.

In the Gospel today, two of their companions are explaining to them all about their encounter with the Risen Jesus as they were on the way to Emmaus and how they too were confused and troubled before this until Jesus spoke to them about the scriptures and ate with them, breaking bread together. Their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus. All of a sudden, while the other Disciples were listening to their story, Jesus came and stood in their midst. First, they thought that it was a ghost! How could anyone come into the room without opening the doors or windows? Only a ghost could do such a thing. This gave them even more fear and confusion.

But, Jesus assuredly said to them, “Peace be with you!” This removed their fear and helped them to finally understand. Jesus told them to look and see that He had flesh and bones and He even asked them for something to eat. Now they knew that this was definitely not a ghost! Yes, this is Jesus Risen from the dead, our Savior. This is the one we heard about in the Scriptures. They could be at Peace now and not be afraid any longer. “You are witnesses of these things,” Jesus said to them.

Jesus had to first remove their fear so they could listen to Him with peace of mind. Jesus knew that if the Disciples had such great fear to contend with, His message could never have been brought to others by them. Fear would only cripple them and prevent them from having the courage to witness to the Good News. So, Jesus gave them an inner Peace. He set their hearts on fire with His Word and prepared them for the gift of the Holy Spirit that was to come to them on Pentecost. Then they could receive all the necessary Gifts needed to spread the message about the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life for all those who believe in Him.

My friends, listening to these events in the Gospel challenges us as his Disciples today, maybe confused and fearful at times in our faith, to come and discover the inner peace of Jesus that removes fear. And so the question for us is, “Are you still locked within yourself because of sin and fear? Has fear prevented you from experiencing the fullness of life as a Christian? Has it stopped you from being a true witness to Jesus and from receiving the forgiveness of your sins?” Remember what Jesus said,

Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

As Disciples, we celebrate the Breaking of the Bread and will receive the True Body and Blood of Christ that strengthens us to be His fearless witnesses and also those who know the forgiveness of sin from the One who suffered and died for us: Jesus Christ our Risen Lord. Peace be with you!